Webcams Are Getting Hard to Find, But You Probably Already Have the One You Need

A free app lets you use your smartphone instead.

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Welcome to Product Support, a column devoted to helping you get the most out of the gadgets and software you already use.

Now that social distancing has made video chat a primary form of communication, webcams are suddenly hard to come by. But if your computer’s built-in cam is broken, low-quality, inconveniently affixed to the machine itself or totally nonexistent, there is an alternative to buying a separate cam: using a smartphone as a camera instead.

There are a handful of options with various pros and cons, but one of the most versatile is EpocCam, which is available on both Android and iOS, works with Macs and Windows machines and is free. All you have to do is download the app on your phone, install the appropriate drivers on your Mac or PC and make sure both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.

I had a little trouble at first (the user experience leaves a bit to be desired) but my Galaxy S20 now shows up as camera for both my Mac and Windows device after rebooting all devices involved. You can find the official setup guide here, and test your results on this website before you jump into any high-stakes chats.

More advanced iPhone users might be interested to mess around with the slightly more professional NDI HX app, which ordinarily charges a subscription fee, but is currently available for free.

EpocCam: Android EpocCam: iOS NDI HX: iOS

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