Thursday, June 9, 2022

Continuity Camera at WWDC 2022

Jason Snell:

People can complain that this is another example of Sherlocking, in which Apple takes a feature pioneered by outside developers and rolls it into the system. And, yes, it is that. Sherlocking has a couple of interesting aspects that aren’t as widely known, though: First, there’s usually room left behind after a “Sherlocking,” and there are several features in Camo that Apple isn’t bothering to replicate with Continuity Camera. Second, the platform owner has powers far beyond those of third-party app developers—and with Continuity Camera, it shows. There’s no app to launch, nothing to configure, no awkward attempt to mount a phone while not touching the wrong button or the wrong place on the screen. When you bring an iPhone (running iOS 16) close to a Mac (running macOS Ventura), the phone’s rear camera can be used as a video source by the Mac. That’s pretty great.


In essence, the iPhone is automatically detecting when it’s been mounted on or behind your screen and is now ready to be used as a webcam. That’s when the switch of the System Camera occurs. (Apps will need to be updated to recognize the System Camera state, but users should be able to switch between their preferred video sources, regardless.)


Desk View is an odd one. It’s actually an app called Desk View that displays that faux overhead view, calculated by rotating and de-skewing the output from the ultrawide camera.

Note that the Continuity Camera feature has been around since macOS 10.14. You can use it today in EagleFiler to take a photo, scan a document, or draw a sketch with your iPhone (or iPad) and have it automatically imported to your Mac. What’s new in Ventura and iOS 16 is that it also works for live video. That’s a great addition, and if you have an old iPhone handy you could even leave it permanently attached to your desktop Mac’s display.


Discover how you can use iPhone as an external camera in any Mac app with Continuity Camera. Whether you’re building video conferencing software or an experience that makes creative use of cameras, we’ll show you how you can enhance your app with automatic camera switching. We’ll also explore how to recognize user-preferred and system-preferred cameras, take you through APIs for high-resolution and high-quality photo capture from iPhone’s video stream, and more.


Update (2022-06-17): Juli Clover:

If you want to try Continuity Camera as it’s meant to be used and you have a 3D printer, Jonathan Wight has created some mount patterns for the MacBook Pro and the iMac Pro. You can print out one of the mounts and attach it to the Mac to hold the iPhone in place.

Update (2022-08-08): Julio Ojeda-Zapata:

The mounts are not yet available to the public, but some lucky tech writers have been sent pre-release versions. Apple chose not to favor me with early access, but I found something similar while rummaging through my tech gear: PopSocket’s PopGrip for MagSafe. It’s an oval slab that clamps magnetically to the back of an iPhone and incorporates that classic telescoping two-finger circular grip.


Here are image comparisons with the FaceTime HD cameras in the 2020 M1 MacBook Air, the recently released M2 MacBook Air, and the Studio Display, which was released earlier this year. Continuity Camera imagery is superior across the board. The M2 MacBook Air improves on the M1 MacBook Air, but not dramatically so. The Studio Display’s imagery is muddled and a bit dark.


Now it’s present in Continuity Camera as an option to toggle background blurriness on and off (iPhone 11 or later).

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm a bit perplexed by Snells second point. I meant, that *is* the core of what makes Sherlocking so unfair.

It's like saying there are things about low wage jobs that are unknown and then listing "people working multiple jobs to make ends meet don't have the time or energy to get education for a better paying job".

Well no shit Sherlock!

@Kristoffer It is unfair. To me, the question with Sherlocking is what Apple could/should have done instead, and that’s different in different cases. Here, I think it would be reasonable for them to offer APIs so that third-party alternatives have a somewhat level playing field. They were there first, and we know Apple’s solution won’t address everyone’s needs. Apple has started that with macOS 12.3, but there’s more to do, as Snell mentions. But without a first-party solution it’s likely those APIs wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t work very well.

I'm leaning more and more towards "Either you run a store, or you sell stuff in other stores". That goes for "Our own brand" in supermarkets as well.

With the digital transformation the platform owners have perfect insight into what sells, and what's about to take off. Then they can put lower prices on their apps/wares due to owning the supply chain AND push for whatever they just cribbed using their owned media.

But I also think using your $1399.99 phone to replace the suspiciously shitty webcam your PRO laptop came with sounds like a feature of the platform rather than a third party app. Same goes for Sherlock I guess. It's tricky.

@Kristoffer I dunno. For groceries and household stuff I mainly choose to shop places that have good house (non-)brands and mostly buy those. I don't want to pay for the name brand's ad campaigns and fancy packaging.

Apple doesn't (merely) own a store selling it's own brand. It owns the whole city, and only allows its own store in that city. And if you don't like it, you can move.

Old Unix Geek

If Apple truly cared about its ecosystem, it would work with the Sherlocked parties to make them whole, just as a gardener may move a plant in his garden to make room for another. But instead, the behemoth just harvests once the worth of the idea has been proven. Those actually innovating get shafted, and give up. In a non-monopolistic market, the innovators might move markets, but that's not an option in a duopoly.

@Alexander I used to be like you wrt Our Own Brand products. Then, for reasons, I started paying attention to how many new products they created, vs how many they blatantly copied from other companies.

Although, it's not like Nestlé are the good guys.

Hmmm... was about to recommend Dave2D s YouTube video where he demos the continuity camera feature. (Non flat objects looks weird) but he has taken it down.

For now, at least, Camo has the distinct advantages of supporting Macs back to macOS 10.13 and iDevices running iOS 12. It's a great product.

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