Two years into remote meetings, I must confess I was getting a little frustrated that the cameras I use to take part in them aren’t as good as the one in my iPhone — but I still needed something larger than my phone.
Camo makes a webcam from your iPhone
I had considered investing in a video camera (and one of those giant microphones people use to make an on-screen impression). But I couldn’t justify the expense.
Then I got an email from Reincubate asking whether I wanted to take a look at its app, Camo. This is software, most recently updated in October, that lets you use your iPhone along with almost any system (macOS, Windows, iOS, Android) to engage in a good quality video chat on almost any collaboration platform.
What this means is that any PC, Mac, or other device suddenly benefits from the fantastic camera on your iPhone, which is almost certainly better than the webcam you may already use.
Available in free versions and Pro
There’s a free version of Camo you can work with to get to know it. The Pro version gives you access to even more software controls so you can adjust lighting, zoom, crop, and perform other tweaks to create the best look for the session. You also get Portrait mode, on-screen AR effects, a feed that turns you into a sketch (great fun), and a preview window.
The Pro version (which is the one with the most exciting features) will cost you $4.99/month, $39.99/year or $79.99 for a lifetime license. All the same, the free version has quite a lot going for it, and will give you the benefit of using the camera in your iPhone.
In either case, you’ll need to find an iPhone camera mount of some kind.
Everyone but FaceTime
Camo supports most video collaboration services: Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, Skype, Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, Slack, Blue Jeans — even Final Cut Pro. For me, the only really upsetting news is that it doesn’t yet work with FaceTime; but given most business users need a cross-platform solution, that’s less of a problem outside Cupertino’s Magic Garden.
[Also read: 12+ tips to make remote meetings more effective]
I’ve only been able to make a little use of Camo so far, but I was pleased with how easy it was to install and how swiftly I came to terms with using it. Installation requires the app be installed on both your iPhone and the other device you want to use; the two are connected using the Lightning cable.
I like that Camo lets me optimize how I appear on screen, but as everyone who meets me in a video meet-up knows, I’m growing the kind of face you want to see on radio.
Exploring the company’s website, I noticed that Wall Street Journal technology columnist, Joanna Stern, was named as a happy customer and wrote a glowing review back in 2020. I dropped her a line to find out whether she still uses Camo.
It turns out, she does. She told me she still uses the app to conduct most of her CNBC video appearances, and still thinks highly of it. So perhaps it will be of use to you?
You may need this app
I don’t usually wax lyrical for an entire post about an app, but I think the Apple professionals here might find it useful. I see it this way — we know many enterprise professionals probably use an iPhone and will soon migrate to Mac, because the computers we use right now have become a little long in the tooth.
That means we’re attempting to create good customer impressions while using second-rate webcams — even though the best camera we have is sitting in our pocket! Being able to use that camera and access all the useful image settings to improve how you appear may give you a little confidence to help you feel more relaxed during a meeting. (It could even provide you with that little edge to win the order or seal the deal.)
There are some limitations. The free version only supports 720p video, and the most exciting (and many of the most useful) features are corralled in the Pro version.
Solving a problem you didn’t know you have
This is a great little app that solves a problem you probably have and makes good use of the advanced equipment you already own. It gives you lens controls lacking in most video collaboration systems and would be a useful addition to any remote worker’s toolkit.
Let me know how it goes.