Earlier this week, I attended my first in-person event at Apple in three years. Due to the pandemic, all of Apple’s announcements and developers’ conferences since mid-2020 were virtual. This year Apple had thousands of developers on-site and invited a group of media and analysts to view the opening keynote in an outside amphitheater on the Apple spaceship campus.
You have either seen the WWDC keynote video or read many stories about their announcement. Of great interest for many was the introduction of their new M2 processor and a new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro that sported the new M2 chip. The new M2 processor handles up to 15.8 trillion operations per second and the CPU is 18% faster, and the GPU is 35% faster than the M1. It also has the industry’s leading performance per watt, a huge differentiator from competitive chips on the market today.
These new Mac laptops will ship the week of June 20, and from my discussions with some of the developers I talked with at the event, these new MacBooks should be a big hit for them and early adopters.
Apple also introduced a new Mac OS called Ventura with over a hundred new features that makes the Mac OS even more powerful.
iPad OS also upgrades with over 100 new features and functions. But one feature that makes an iPad even more like a Mac is thanks to a new application called Stage Manager. It is available on the Mac and the iPad. It allows a person to manage their files and content in a new way that makes it possible for multiple apps and files to be placed in special folders on the side that become easy to access and integrate with both operating systems.
The iPhone OS also received significant upgrades, including Live Activities, new Memoji customization, widgets on the lock screen, and many more that will delight iPhone users when released this fall. All new OS upgrades are scheduled for a fall release.
But there was one unique application that was introduced towards the end that has the potential to be a game-changer for video calls and video collaboration.
It is called Continuity Camera. It allows your iPhone camera to be used as an ultra-powerful DSLR-like camera for FaceTime, Zoom, and any other video conferencing apps. Today, most people use either the Mac, iPad or iPhone cameras or third-party cameras with these video calling apps.
Apple has created a small clip that attaches an iPhone to the MacBooks or iPads that triggers the software to make the iPhone the primary camera for video calls.
Apple has made using the iPhone camera a seamless experience. Once it is attached to the Mac or iPad, it wirelessly connects to your device and takes full advantage of the exceptional power of Apple’s DSLR-like camera features.
Like magic, the computer instantly recognizes the iPhone, taking over from the embedded camera on your device. As a result, you will need recent iPhones to use an iPhone as your external camera from the XR model on up. You’ll also need iOS16, the updated iPhone operating system, releasing this fall.
If you have an iPhone Pro camera, it includes special photography features that iPhone users don’t have, but they’ll be coming to the Mac/iPhone duo in both OS upgrades later this year.
One crucial app previously announced is Center Stage on an iPad that automatically zooms in and out as you move around, maintaining the subject in the center frame. A video call participant can also be viewed in Portrait Mode, which blurs the background, and leaves the subject in focus. Apple has announced a new Studio Light setting, which, according to Apple, “…beautifully illuminates a user’s face while dimming the background.”
One other software feature that makes the iPhone as an external camera even better is a feature that lets you use two of the iPhone camera lenses concurrently. One will be on the user, while the other can focus on something else. Apple calls it “Desk View” to simultaneously show the user’s face and an overhead view of their desk. “Great for creating DIY videos, showing off sketches over FaceTime, and so much more,” says Apple.
When I saw this feature, I was genuinely amazed since the camera is still in its clip, yet it shows an image, in this case, the desk view, as if the camera is positioned high above the desk.
After the event, I spoke with Apple’s SVP of Marketing, Greg Jozwiak, about Desk View, and he said this is all done in math and AI. So you have to see it in person to understand how groundbreaking this feature will be for video calls and especially demos.
Using an iPhone as the primary camera for video calls is not new. Indeed, a UK company called Camo blazed a trail around this idea and already has software for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone that gives users features like lens adjustments, lighting, colors, zoom, and crop focus.
It also adds special effects that add a lot of pizazz, especially for use in personal video calls.
Continuity Camera will be a significant addition to those who use the Mac and iPads. I suspect we will look back on this new development as one of the more critical business and consumer-focused announcements of this year’s WWDC.