Before COVID-19, I worked from home an average of a day a week. This meant that any annoyance was bearable, and investing in any gear wasn't really worth it. I, along with many millions of people across the world, have had to make a rapid adjustment to working from home full-time. Little annoyances come to bear.
One of those annoyances is the angle of the Macbook webcam. No-one looks good when the camera is below head height. As such, I wanted to buy a webcam to place on top of my external display.
Unfortunately, I wasn't alone in this assessment. Webcams were sold out all over Amazon. I optimistically put an order in for a Logitech C920. But, 2 weeks passed, and I still hadn't heard anything.
Unrelated, I ordered a new iPhone to replace my aging and slightly broken iPhone 7 Plus. At this point, it struck me that I should be able to use it in replacement of any webcam. Onwards!
To get this to work, I downloaded an app called EpocCam. This comes in two parts: an app that you download onto your iPhone, and a set of drivers that you install onto your Mac.
To get started, install the app onto your iPhone. You need to upgrade to the Pro version to get higher resolution streaming, and the ability to use the front facing camera. It's £7.99, so it's well worth it, compared to the price of a comparable webcam.
Install the drivers onto your Mac. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
After you've installed everything, open up EpocCam on your phone. You should be greeted by something that looks roughly like the following (minus my face).
For best results, you'll want to connect your phone directly to your laptop using a Lightning to USB cable. EpocCam can stream over WiFi, but why bother? Your phone should be close enough to your laptop, and the chance of connection interruption drops far lower once you remove the network.
There's a few different options that you can choose using the Settings button. I don't really know what they do. The defaults are fine.
Open up Hangouts (if that is what it's called these days), Zoom, or any video conferencing software of your choice. You should be able to choose the EpocCam input from the video selection. Proof in the pudding below!
Right now, I don't have a stand for the iPhone - it arrives later this week.
Until then, I've bodged together a house of cards for it to stand on until it arrives. The iPhone sits on the drinks mat, and is held up by the Bose speaker. Isn't it beautiful?
I haven't really used this in anger yet. Time will tell if it's too annoying to not have easy access to my phone during calls. But if you're as vain as I am, it seems like a 'cheap' - if you already have the gear - alternative to the current webcam shortages on the market. Additionally, the hardware and software inside an iPhone is extremely high quality.
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