I started using Continuity Camera on macOS 13 Ventura, and now I can’t go back

There’s a lot to like about macOS 13 Ventura, and perhaps nothing is better than Continuity Camera. The new feature lets you replace your Mac’s internal camera with your much more powerful iPhone camera. The result is a much better video chat experience in apps and services like FaceTime, Google Meet, and more.

I’ve been using Continuity Camera with the macOS 13 Ventura public beta for a few weeks, and it’s already changed how I feel about video chatting on Mac – for the better.

Over the years there have been many discussions about the inferiority of the front-facing FaceTime cameras, even on Apple’s best MacBooks, compared to the most basic third-party webcams. However, even though the current generation MacBook Air (2022), 24-inch iMac (2021), 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021), and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) (finally) include 1080p FaceTime HD cameras, they still aren’t not on par with modern iPhone cameras in terms of features and image quality.

New Mac camera features will include Center Stage, Portrait mode, and Studio Light.

Enter the Continuity Camera, a feature no one expected when macOS 13 Ventura was announced in June or deemed necessary.

Assuming your iPhone and Mac are nearby, Continuity Camera works. This ease of use should make the feature very popular once macOS 13 Ventura hits everyone this fall.

Once this connection is made, you can use three of the best camera features on iPhone with any camera app on Mac. These features include Center Stage, Portrait Mode, and a new one called Studio Light. There’s also a new desktop view, which acts like an overhead camera, showing your face and your desktop.

Bonus: most iPhones will work with Continuity Camera

Center Stage, definitely my favorite Continuity Camera feature, works with iPhone 11 or later and uses the handset’s Ultra Wide camera. Even better, with Center Stage, you’re always centered in the camera frame during video calls or meetings, even when you’re on the move. Previously, Center Stage was only available on select iPads and Apple Studio Displays.

Thanks to Portrait mode, you can now blur the background during a video call on Mac. This requires an iPhone XR or later or iPhone SE (2nd generation) or later.

Once selected, the new lighting effect, Studio Light, will illuminate your face and darken the background. This feature is available with iPhone 12 or later.

Desk View works with iPhone 11 and later.

How and where to place your iPhone for Continuity Camera

Apple suggests that the best way to use Continuity Camera is to place your iPhone horizontally on a stand at the top center of your Mac’s screen. To support this recommendation, Apple and third parties like Belkin are expected to release Continuity camera mounts that easily connect to a Mac in the coming weeks and months.

Instead of a stand, I used my handy Xenvo SquidGrip (opens in a new tab) tripod. This is a highly recommended product, although countless other mini tripods on the market will do the job as well.

One last thought

When I describe Continuity Camera to non-techies who use a Mac, I often get a follow-up question: “You mean my Mac camera could be better?” Unfortunately, this is a question with no solid answer.

On the one hand, I think Apple should be bothered by the kind of cameras it puts in its Mac products. Many of these computers are well over $2,000 (even for a base model), and you’d expect the best of the best. On the other hand, most video chats probably happen on mobile devices like iPhones, not Macs. Therefore, from a financial point of view, it makes sense that less powerful cameras are installed on Apple computers.

With the introduction of the Continuity Camera, Apple inevitably admits that its Mac cameras aren’t great while offering a solution to fix this problem. And, surprisingly, this solution costs nothing extra – assuming you also have a supported Mac and iPhone.

We expect Apple to release macOS 13 Ventura in September or October. Stay tuned.

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