A good webcam, let alone any webcam, is tough to find these days. Just to put a time marker on this post: the coronavirus pandemic has moved much of America’s workforce into a work-from-home environment. With so many people in need of basic tech supplies, demand for webcams has surged, and as supplies dwindle, prices have unsurprisingly skyrocketed.
My colleague Chris Welch has reported on the trend, and many of us here at The Verge have spent more time (and money) than we’d have liked just to equip our home Windows 10 or macOS computers with a decent camera. Thankfully, you don’t have to fight the online crowd to spend hundreds on a webcam that you may or may not get much use out of when we’re on the other side of this pandemic. There is an alternative: a spare (or your current) Android or iOS phone or tablet you might have.
YOU’LL WANT TO ENSURE THAT YOUR DEVICE STAYS PLUGGED IN, AS THESE APPS ARE BATTERY HOGS
We’ll start with how to get your Android phone or tablet to act as a webcam for your computer, and then we’ll move into doing the same with your iPhone or iPad. (By the way, you can also easily turn a Wyze security camera into a webcam, but you’ll likely get far better video quality from your device.)
HOW TO USE YOUR ANDROID PHONE / TABLET AS A WEBCAM
There are several apps in the Google Play Store that claim to morph your Android device into a webcam. Out of the few that I tried, DroidCam offered the easiest setup with the most reliable results. I don’t doubt that there are more clever, app-free solutions to get this done, but for the sake of simplicity, this is what we’re going with here.
Download and install the free version of DroidCam from the Play Store. (It requires a device running Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer software.) The developer, Dev47Apps, makes a desktop client for Windows 10 and Linux (but unfortunately, not for macOS) that you’ll also need to download onto your computer. (Note: I’m focusing on steps to use it with Windows 10 in this how-to.) Make sure that you download version 6.2 since it addresses some issues that might cause a headache if you use an earlier version.