Your iPhone allows you to communicate with friends and family in a bevy of ways, from using Facebook to sending SMS and e-mail. But with the right applications, your iPhone can also act as a webcam for your computer and for video chatting on the go. By understanding how your iPhone cameras work, you can utilise them for face-to-face communication with friends and family members using different services, apps and websites on your phone.
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The iPhone 4 was the first smartphone to offer dual digital cameras -- one on the front and one on the back of the device. This set-up is necessary if you plan on using your iPhone as a webcam or for video chatting, since you'll need to look at the front of the device to view incoming video. The dual camera design has become increasingly common among other smartphone brands, but you'll find more applications and programs that work with the iPhone, making it more accessible as a webcam.
FaceTime is an on-board application that makes it possible for you to video chat using your iPhone as a webcam while you're talking on the phone. The application only works with other iPhone users and using FaceTime will use minutes on your cell phone plan, but it's a valuable addition to the iPhone. It's simple to use, since there's an FaceTime icon within each phone call that you can tap when you're ready to see someone face-to-face.
Video Chat Apps
You can save minutes and long distance charges by using your iPhone to video chat with certain apps, such as Skype and Viber. Both use your Wi-Fi or 3G connection to connect to the Internet so you can talk with friends and family. Skype is also a computer program and needs a webcam to work properly. Since the iPhone already has the on-board dual cameras and a microphone, you don't need any added accessories to use video chat.
Several apps, including iWebcamera, Mobiola WebCamera and iPhoneCam, allow you to download an app onto your phone and drivers on your computer to use your iPhone as a webcam for your computer. There are still limitations, such as nonexistent or limited use of the microphone, but if you need a webcam in a pinch, a webcam app can help you connect with programs such as Skype and MSN Messenger.
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- Wall Street Journal: Skype Adds Video Chat To iPhone App; Courtney Banks; Dec. 2010
- Cult of Mac: App Turns iPhone Into Tethered webcam (Warning: Windows Only); Eli Milchman; June 2010
- Mobiola: WebCamera
- IntoMobile: iPhone as webcam -- iPhoneCam turns your iPhone into a Wireless Mac webcam; Will Park; Jan. 2008