In the last couple of years we've all learned exactly how low-res and unflattering webcams can be. Even the latest laptop’s built-in webcam is likely years behind an iPhone camera’s capabilities.
Luckily, the folks at Apple are aware of this, and they’ve come up with a solution that turns your iPhone into a webcam.
It’s called Continuity Camera, and it lets your phone or iPad connect with your Mac via WiFi. (Sorry, Windows and Android users—you’ll have to figure out a different solution, for now.) From there, the phone pairs seamlessly with a variety of apps to function as a high-def webcam. If you’re not ready to shell out the cash for the kinds of cameras YouTubers use, this is an excellent second option.
Continuity Camera doesn’t just allow you to stream crystal-clear images over Zoom or FaceTime. Apple has also built in new features that allow you to shift the camera’s focus, blur background images, and even show two angles of your workspace at once. It’s a whole new level for the video quality of webcams.
The first step in using your iPhone as a webcam is to check your specs. Since this is a new feature, you’ll need fairly up-to-date operating systems on both your iPhone and your Mac.
Important things to note include:
Your phone or iPad has to be an iPhone XR, 8, or later, and running iOS 16. Make sure WiFi and Bluetooth are both enabled. You can do all of this in the Settings app on the phone.
Your Mac device needs to be running macOS Ventura; you can verify its operating system by clicking the apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen and going to About This Mac.
Double-check that both devices are signed in to the same Apple ID and use two-factor authentication for login.
How to enable to Continuity Camera
Once you’ve confirmed that your Apple devices meet the requirements, you can enable Continuity Camera:
Open your iPhone Settings
Tap AirPlay & Handoff
Toggle Continuity Camera to on
Bring your iPhone near your Mac and launch the app you want to use. Your computer should automatically start using the iPhone’s rear camera as the default webcam when it’s unlocked and in range. But if it doesn’t, you can go into the app’s Preferences and select the Continuity Camera option.
If you don’t want to have to hold your phone while you stream or record your content, you’ll probably want to invest in a tripod or Continuity Camera mount (such as the Belkin MagSafe Continuity Camera mount, available on Amazon) to keep it where you want it while you work.
If you need to move, though, don’t worry—Continuity Camera should be available even if you move your phone up to 40 feet away from your Mac, so you can shift positions and still look great on camera.
How Apple’s Continuity Camera works
Apple Continuity Camera allows you to upgrade your laptop’s built-in webcam or microphone using the camera on your iPhone.
The feature connects both devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When a Mac device opens a video app and the device recognizes a connected iPhone nearby, it automatically switches to the iPhone camera and microphone.
How to use the Continuity Camera
Once you’ve enabled Continuity Camera on your iPhone, here’s how to use it as a webcam on your Mac:
Open a video app on your Mac (such as Photobooth or Zoom)
Wait for the Mac to recognize the connected iPhone
Choose a video effect
There are some great ways to use this feature, beyond the obvious. Let’s say, for example, you’re accepting a video call on your Macbook Pro. You’re in a busy office space, and your laptop’s native microphone is picking up extra background noise. Switching to Continuity Camera allows you to use your iPhone microphone and hold the device closer to your mouth. (It’d look strange if you were holding a laptop up by your face to get the same effect.)
Or maybe you’re recording a YouTube video on your Macbook Air. Use Continuity Camera to get the best of both worlds: a large Mac screen to view the content you’re filming, and a higher quality camera stream—complete with video effects—using your iPhone as a webcam.
4 useful Continuity Camera features
Continuity Camera offers more advanced video features than most built-in webcams. Here are some of the most popular among video creators:
Desk View: Desk View takes advantage of the phone’s Ultra Wide Camera and allows you to broadcast two angles at once: your face, as well as whatever’s sitting in front of you while you work. This makes it great for showing off in-progress projects as you sketch, mold, play with your Ira Glass action figure, and so on. Anything you’re doing with your hands can be visible, but the audience will be able to watch your face as you chat, too.
Center Stage: This feature is intended for folks who need to move around, but don’t want to end up sliding out of frame. Your phone will keep you centered in the image, no matter where you go.
Portrait Mode: Continuity Camera’s Portrait Mode is similar to the version you’re familiar with from taking pictures on your phone: it keeps you in sharp focus, but blurs the background behind you so that any household messes (trust us, we all have them) don’t pull focus from your super-professional presentation.
Studio Light: Studio Light somehow manages to dim down the background and illuminate your face without needing any ring lights (or even the right window position) for help. Apple says it’s great even with backlighting.
To use any of these Continuity Camera features, go to the Control Center on your Mac—it’s accessible from the top menu bar, and the icon looks like two toggle bars stacked on top of one another. From there, you’ll see a list of options. Just click whichever one you want to turn on.
How to disconnect your iPhone as a webcam
When you’re done, you can go back into your iPhone system Settings and toggle off the Continuity Camera option.
You can also go into each app’s preferences and manually turn off Continuity Camera as the default option if you want to go back to your Mac webcam at any time. But if you never wanted to go back to your old webcam ever again, we’d understand.
The best video editing software for iOS and Android
Recording video through a high-resolution camera, like the one on your iPhone, is the first step in producing incredible content. The next step is editing that video. Video editing software puts the finishing touches on your footage to create high-quality, professional videos.
Descript is a firm favorite among video creators—including those who post content on YouTube, produce social media posts, or make video podcasts.
With Descript, you can:
Automatically transcribe the video
Rearrange content by editing words in your transcription
Remove awkward silences and filler words with one click
Upgrade to professional-grade sound quality with Studio Sound
The best part? Descript isn’t limited to iOS. Whether you’re recording videos using Apple’s Continuity Camera, your traditional webcam, or a Samsung device, you can edited it all in Descript. Here’s how to use the Descript video editor.
Continuity Camera FAQs
What is the Continuity Camera?
Continuity Camera is a feature that allows you to use your iPhone as a webcam on your Apple device. Anyone with a Macbook/Mac can improve their camera quality by linking their iPhone and streaming video to their device, instead of the computer’s built-in webcam.
How do I get a Continuity Camera?
Anyone using Continuity Camera must be signed into the same Apple ID on both their iPhone and Mac or Macbook. From there, go to your iPhone and visit Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff. Toggle the Continuity Camera on.
Is the Continuity Camera only for Mac?
Continuity Camera is available to those with two iOS devices. The Mac must be compatible with iOS Ventura or later; the iPhone must be on version iOS 16 or later. Both devices must also be signed into the same Apple ID account and use two-factor authentication.