Last year, Apple surprised users by revealing an interesting feature with MacOS Ventura. One of the upgrades allowed users to link their iPhones to their Macs and use the phone as a webcam. At the time Android didn't seem inclined to try and compete, but this could be changing.
Microsoft Phone Link is a tool that allows users to link their Android phone with their laptop. It works through a Microsoft companion app and allows you to remotely control your phone with your PC. The one thing the tool didn’t do that Apple had done before was to allow the phone's camera to run as a webcam. Yet lines of code in the update indicate that this could be changing.
The code lines indicate that the latest update coming for Windows, v1.23102.190.0, allows the Android phone to run a video stream. It does not specifically mention using the phone as a webcam, but other code hints this may be the case. There are indications that users could apply effects to their video stream as well as 'auto-framing.'
Currently, we only have the information gleaned from the code and there is no official word from Android yet. As such, we do not know which apps will be supported by the camera link. We can assume that the more popular video-calling apps will be supported. Alternatively, Microsoft Phone Link may allow users to choose which camera to use while the phone is linked.
This has led to some speculation that the feature could be restricted to certain devices that have the Windows link as a system app. For instance, most phones that run Andoird 14 have the app in their system software, including the OnePlus 11. It is also likely that Microsoft may aim to lock the feature to certain new releases to push sales. For example, using the phone as a webcam may only be accessible to the Samsung Galaxy S24 series or the upcoming OnePlus 12.
Currently, Microsoft is remaining silent about the possibility of the feature being included so we will have to wait and see.
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Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.