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

Your laptop’s built-in webcam doesn’t hold a candle to the best Android phones out there when it comes to video quality, which is why many people use their Android phone as a webcam for their PC. The only problem with this approach is that it’s not as convenient to set up, which is why most people settle for external webcams that are usually plug-and-play. That’s why we were initially excited to see that Google is bringing native webcam functionality to Pixel phones with an upcoming Android 14 update. However, after actually trying it out for ourselves, our excitement has waned. 

Those of you who are running Android 14 on your Pixel phone might be a bit confused because this native webcam functionality is nowhere to be found. That’s because it’s only included in the Android 14 QPR beta releases right now. The way this feature works under the hood is quite complicated, but all you really need to know is that it turns your Android phone into a standard USB webcam that most PCs running Windows, macOS, or Linux will recognize. All you have to do is connect your phone to your PC via USB, pull down the notifications panel on your phone, open the USB preferences page, and then change the USB mode to “Webcam.” 

Webcam information when using a Pixel 8 Pro as a USB webcam via Android 14’s webcam feature.  (Image credit: Mishaal Rahman / Android Central)

You don’t need to tinker with any settings or install any additional software on your phone or PC; your phone will just appear as an “Android Webcam” in video conferencing software like Google Meet or Zoom. Android 14 does offer a preview of the video feed, let you adjust the zoom level, and change which camera lens is used, but you don’t get any of the myriad of controls offered by third-party webcam software like Camo.

Using a OnePlus 9 5G as a webcam for a Macbook via Reincubate Camo. (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Google keeping Android 14’s webcam feature simple, because most Android phone cameras can handle typical home office lighting scenarios just fine. But there does seem to be something wrong with the way Google set up the feature in the first place, because for some reason, the video quality is substantially worse than what it could be.


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