Camo review: Turn your iPhone into a stunningly capable Mac webcam

Every Mac (other than the Mac Pro and Mac mini) includes a built-in webcam, which Apple calls a FaceTime camera. And every single one, without exception, is total garbage. They top out at a paltry 720p resolution, with the exception of the iMac Pro’s 1080p model. Resolution aside, they produce video that is grainy, blotchy, relentlessly underexposed, and with horrible dynamic range.

This is weird, because Apple also makes some of the best cameras you can buy on a phone or tablet. The iPhone and iPad’s cameras put not just Apple’s crummy Mac webcams to shame, they outshine any webcam. Even the front-facing iPhone cameras!

Enter Camo, a handy utility by Reincubate that turns your iPhone into a Mac webcam. It’s not the only method of doing so, but it may be the best. With the steep price of $40 per year, it’ll cost you, but it’s less than buying a new webcam (and because it’s software, it’s not sold out like all the good webcams are).

The best webcam is the one you have with you

Now that millions of people who are lucky enough to still have a job are working from home, we’re all doing a lot more Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings than ever before. Users who have never bothered to use the built-in camera on their MacBook are suddenly relying on it multiple times a week.

That’s one good reason why decent USB webcams are perpetually out of stock these days. Instead of buying a new webcam, you can buy a piece of software that turns your iPhone into one.

The iOS app is free, but is just a connector to the Mac app, where all the magic happens. The free Mac app is limited to 720p resolution and only the standard wide or selfie cameras on your iPhone, and you can’t disable the annoying watermark. If you can live with it, it’s already going to be a much better solution than any camera built into any Mac.

A one-year license costs $39.99, but lets you remove the watermark and opens up 1080p video, all the cameras on your iPhone, and a whole mess of useful settings. You can adjust shutter speed, ISO, focus, temperature, tint, hue, mirroring, and more. It’s a simple and intuitive interface, and it’s all on your Mac—once you mount your iPhone into some sort of clip, you don’t want to have to change settings with it.

Here’s an example of the Camo interface. You don’t have to know anything about cameras to quickly see where everything is and what it does; nothing is hidden under nested menus. The preview shows you all changes in real time. And while it’s quite annoying to have your iPhone flash in your face, you can even turn that on and adjust its level if you’re having a meeting in the dark.