iPadOS 17 is getting support for external webcams — here’s what you need to know

ipados 17 using external camera as webcam
(Image credit: Apple)

There’s no shortage of Apple news at WWDC 2023, and the upcoming iPadsOS 17 update is no exception. A great many changes are coming to Apple’s tablets with the new software, and one of them will actually let you connect your iPad to an external webcam. Including the Apple Studio Display's webcam, if you’re so inclined. 

The idea here is you may not want to use your iPad’s front-facing camera for one reason or another. Maybe it’s all about quality, or angling, or something else entirely. So you get to plug an external camera into the tablet and use that — just as you would on a laptop or desktop machine.

The catch here is that this feature only works with iPads that have a USB-C port. If you’ve bought an iPad recently that isn’t likely to be a problem, since Apple has been slowly transitioning its lineup away from Lightning. But if you’re still rocking an older Lightning-enabled iPad like me, then you’re fresh out of luck.

Apple confirmed that any USB camera will work on a plug-in-and-play basis during its Platforms State of the Union video. In other words you plug the camera in and it will be available to use without any additional set-up or configuration. 

Cameras with a USB-A connection will naturally need an adapter. Apple didn’t go into any specifics about compatibility, though we expect anything that supports USB 3.0 and above should be able to perform properly.

Though according to one tweet, it may be possible to use a mirrorless camera with a webcam function with iPadOS 17. So there’s probably a great deal of versatility built into the new feature. Sadly the iPhone’s Continuity Camera might not be supported.

It’s worth mentioning that this feature, like so many others, will likely rely on developers supporting it in their own apps. But, in the meantime, external cameras should still work with Apple-made apps like FaceTime.

Like iOS 17, the iPadOS 17 beta is currently available for Apple developers, while a public version of the beta will be arriving later this year. In the meantime you can check out all the other news and and upgrades coming to iPads in our iPadOS 17 hub.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.

  • Filip P
    To add to the article: Teams doesn’t support the external cameras yet, I’ve just tested that.

    You don’t have to jump on the trigger yet installing beta if this is what you’re excited about