With the recent unveiling of Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1, Pixel phone users can now transform their devices into high-quality webcams for their Chromebooks, too (PC and Mac are supported, too). If you have one of the many Chromebooks out there that came equipped with a less-than-stellar 720p shooter, your video calls are about to get a serious upgrade.
Hinted at earlier this year, Google’s inclusion of this feature echoes Apple’s ‘Continuity Camera’ that allows iPhones to replace the somewhat mediocre cameras you tend to get on Macbooks; only, Google’s is a bit more wide-reaching by comparison. With their choice to utilize the USB Video Class (UVC) standard, Google ensures this webcam feature is not limited to any one ecosystem, allowing a broader range of devices to leverage any Android phone as a webcam – provided it is running Android 14.
How it works
For those with Pixel phones running the Android 14 QPR1 Beta (and more simply, just Android 14 down the road), the process for getting this all up and running seems pretty simple according to 9to5 Google. Simply connect your Pixel phone to the computer, check your notification tray and click the option labeled Charging this device via USB. At the bottom of the bottom of that menu, you’ll find the new Webcam option.
Once you have it enabled, your device will see your phone as an external webcam, with the option to swap between front and rear cameras, and adjust zoom levels. You can even lock your phone to save battery, and when you’re ready to go, your phone’s camera will still be waiting. Apps like Discord, Zoom, and Google Meet on your computer will recognize your Android phone as the “Android Camera”, so when you select that option for your video input, it will just work. It’s that simple.
While 9to5 Google has confirmed all of this is working with the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel Fold isn’t playing along just yet. My mind immediately went to that device with this feature simply due to the fact that the hinge of that phone allows for a simple way to get your shot set up when needed. But this is all early, so I’m certain the Fold will be included by the time Android 14 rolls out to Pixel devices.
Not just for Pixels, though
Most exciting, this isn’t a Pixel-exclusive feature. As other manufacturers start rolling out Android 14 updates, a multitude of devices should soon double up as webcams. Thanks to Google using a universal standard and allowing for Android to simply report as a standard webcam with this new feature, any device that can use an external webcam will be able to use an Android phone in this way. It’s a feature I’ve been waiting on for a very long time, and I’m glad to see it arriving just around the corner.