The Android 14 webcam feature makes my $1,000 Pixel 8 Pro look like a cheap camera

    Your laptop computer’s built-in webcam doesn’t maintain a candle to the perfect Android telephones on the market in terms of video high quality, which is why many individuals use their Android cellphone as a webcam for his or her PC. The solely drawback with this strategy is that it’s not as handy to arrange, which is why most individuals accept exterior webcams which might be often plug-and-play. That’s why we had been initially excited to see that Google is bringing native webcam performance to Pixel telephones with an upcoming Android 14 replace. However, after truly making an attempt it out for ourselves, our pleasure has waned. Those of you who’re operating Android 14 in your Pixel cellphone may be a bit confused as a result of this native webcam performance is nowhere to be discovered. That’s as a result of it’s solely included within the Android 14 QPR beta releases proper now. The method this characteristic works beneath the hood is sort of difficult, however all you really want to know is that it turns your Android cellphone into a regular USB webcam that almost all PCs operating Windows, macOS, or Linux will acknowledge. All it’s important to do is join your cellphone to your PC by way of USB, pull down the notifications panel in your cellphone, open the USB preferences web page, after which change the USB mode to “Webcam.” Webcam data when utilizing a Pixel 8 Pro as a USB webcam by way of Android 14’s webcam characteristic.  (Image credit score: Mishaal Rahman / Android Central)You don’t must tinker with any settings or set up any further software program in your cellphone or PC; your cellphone will simply seem as an “Android Webcam” in video conferencing software program like Google Meet or Zoom. Android 14 does provide a preview of the video feed, allow you to alter the zoom degree, and alter which digicam lens is used, however you don’t get any of the myriad of controls supplied by third-party webcam software program like Camo.Using a OnePlus 9 5G as a webcam for a Macbook by way of Reincubate Camo. (Image credit score: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)I don’t assume there’s something improper with Google conserving Android 14’s webcam characteristic easy, as a result of most Android cellphone cameras can deal with typical house workplace lighting eventualities simply fantastic. But there does appear to be one thing improper with the way in which Google arrange the characteristic within the first place, as a result of for some purpose, the video high quality is considerably worse than what it could possibly be.For instance, listed here are some screenshots from a Google Meet name the place I used Android 14’s webcam characteristic, Reincute’s Camo app, and the scrcpy software’s digicam mirroring characteristic on my Pixel 8 Pro. Android 14’s webcam characteristic doesn’t allow you to select the decision or body fee, although because it maxes out at 1080p 30fps, I used that decision and body fee in Camo and scrcpy.Image 1 of 3Using my Pixel 8 Pro as a USB webcam by way of Android 14’s webcam characteristic.(Image credit score: Mishaal Rahman / Android Central)Using Reincubate’s Camo app with the Pixel 8 Pro as a webcam.(Image credit score: Mishaal Rahman / Android Central)Using scrcpy with the Pixel 8 Pro as a webcam.(Image credit score: Mishaal Rahman / Android Central)Just to make certain that neither Google Meet nor my Pixel 8 Pro had been the problems right here, I additionally examined my Pixel 6a, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 7 Pro on a separate PC, with totally different cables, and in Zoom and OBS Studio as properly. The outcomes had been constant: Android 14’s webcam characteristic supplied considerably inferior video high quality in comparison with Camo and scrcpy. I recorded a few movies domestically by way of OBS Studio and uploaded them to YouTube in case you need to see how dramatic the distinction in high quality actually is.I might be mendacity if I mentioned Android 14’s webcam characteristic is unusable — removed from it, the truth is. When I used it on my Pixel 6 Pro to document episode 18 of the Android Faithful podcast, none of my co-hosts or viewers members complained about my video high quality. When I switched to utilizing scrcpy as my webcam in episode 19, nevertheless, my co-hosts might positively inform there was a giant increase in high quality.You would possibly assume that rising the webcam high quality to 4K30 like I did after I recorded episode 19 of Android Faithful would trigger my Pixel 6 Pro to overheat and lose a ton of battery even when plugged in, however that truly wasn’t the case. Before the present, I ran scrcpy’s digicam mirroring characteristic at 4K30 for an hour and famous the battery degree and temperature of my Pixel 6 Pro.After an hour, the battery degree solely dropped 5%, and the temperature solely reached 36°C. When I recorded this information once more over the two-hour interval that the podcast was recording, the battery degree solely dropped 6%, and the temperature solely reached 37.3°C. The exams I ran had been removed from scientific and, in fact, had been depending on the system I used and the ambient temperature in my recording surroundings (~23°C). Still, I feel I’ve demonstrated that thermal/battery issues aren’t actually at concern right here. When Google’s personal advertising tries to promote the concept that Android 14 will allow you to use “your epic Android camera” as a “beautiful webcam,” I feel it’s honest to have excessive expectations. I feel most individuals are simply so accustomed to mid-tier webcams and video conferencing software program compression that the bar has been set so low for what makes a “good” webcam. My $1,000 Pixel 8 Pro shouldn’t simply be an excellent webcam; it must be a tremendous one. Image 1 of 2A nonetheless from Google’s “Top 14 features in Android 14” video touting the brand new webcam characteristic.(Image credit score: Google)A snippet from Google’s Android 14 touchdown web page touting the upcoming characteristic(Image credit score: Google)I’m not precisely certain what the difficulty is with Android 14’s webcam characteristic, however I might be stunned if it’s one thing Google can’t repair. It’s not like Camo or scrcpy are doing something particular to enhance video high quality when utilizing your Android cellphone as a webcam — they’re utilizing the identical API (Camera2) to entry the system’s digicam, in spite of everything. My hope is that Google simply selected reasonably aggressive compression settings in order that customers on much less secure or slower networks gained’t face points throughout video calls. I mentioned earlier that I don’t assume there’s something improper with Google conserving issues easy. Still, I feel Google ought to a minimum of present an choice to make use of higher-quality settings, maybe with a warning that these settings might trigger the system to overheat or degrade the battery longevity if used for a protracted interval. Because as of proper now, I can’t suggest utilizing Android 14’s webcam characteristic over third-party options. 

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