Last year, Apple shocked us all by redesigning its MacBook Pro to include a notch at the top of the screen. What’s in that notch? Apple’s improved built-in webcam. Yes, the webcam was finally an upgrade to the very pitiful webcam Apple used to include on its MacBooks. Still, the lack of Face ID (or any other relevant technology) made it a slightly baffling decision at the time. However, yesterday, the notch’s inclusion just became a lot more confusing.
Your iPhone is now your webcam
During the WWDC keynote, Apple showed off a new feature in macOS Ventura called Continuity Camera. This feature will allow you to use your iPhone’s camera(s) as your webcam without any additional software. They even plan on selling a little accessory that will fasten your iPhone to the back of your MacBook to hold your iPhone right where you would put an external webcam.
We’ve already noted that this will Sherlock some existing third-party services, like Camo and others, which offer software that allows you to use your iPhone as a Mac webcam. But I think it goes further than that. All webcams could be in danger of being obsolete on Mac.
So, Apple is killing webcams now?
It all boils down to just how excellent the iPhone camera has become. If you have an iPhone 13 Pro, you have a better camera in your pocket than 99% of webcams (both internal and external) on the market. Any picture from an iPhone will look infinitely better than that $50 Logitech webcam you’ve been using. Plus, with all the software already in your best iPhone handling a bunch of computational photography, it’s easy to see how webcams get outclassed. Apple showed us that while using a Continuity Camera, you’ll be able to use different lighting modes — as you would for Portrait Mode — to change the look. You can blur the background with ease or even use the studio lighting setting to keep you more light than your background.
All webcams on MacBooks could become obsolete
Of course, that’s only talking about one camera. Remember, most newer iPhones have at least two, if not three, cameras that macOS Ventura could and will leverage. On top of showing off the ability to use the main iPhone back camera as a webcam, Apple showed off a feature called Desk view, which uses the ultra-wide-angle lens on the back of your iPhone to create a top-down view (pictured below). Perfect if you’re trying to show something off to your colleagues or friends. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any webcam that can simultaneously show you two different angles. I’m sure they are few and far between if they are out there.
Source: Apple / Olivia Bee
So, yes, it’s entirely possible that this could be the end of webcams on MacBooks! Instead, Apple may want you to use your iPhone. I’m not saying that’s right or convenient for all the people who love Macs but carry non-Apple phones, but it’s a direction Apple may choose to explore.
Will the notch survive? Only time will tell.
If the MacBook’s webcam goes away, you would have to assume the notch would also disappear; it barely has a reason for being there in the first place.
Of course, the newly announced MacBook Air with M2 chip has both a notch and a webcam, but it’s important to note that it will be available to buy next month. Meanwhile, macOS Ventura and Continiutiy Camera won’t be released until the fall.