If you work from home and need to communicate with your team, a little video chat does a lot of good. While most laptops come with built-in webcams, desktops don’t and laptop cameras can break at any time.
You can buy a new webcam, but if you don’t want to spend the money or need it in the long run, a little free software can help. If you’re ready to give it a try, you can turn your phone (or other aftermarket smartphone) into a webcam for your PC.
For Android phones: DroidCam
Android users can try a free app called DroidCam to turn it into a webcam. The free version has everything you need to get started, although a $ 5.49 upgrade to DroidCamX adds 720p / 1080p video with HD mode, and removes small banner ads. If you plan on using it a lot, it’s a worthy upgrade, but I felt the experience with the free version was pretty solid.
To get started, you’ll need two pieces of software: the Android DroidCam app from the Play Store and the Windows client from Dev47Apps. After both are installed, make sure your computer and phone are on the same Wi-Fi network. The Android DroidCam app should have an IP address listed, like 192.168.1.91, which you can enter into the app. office to connect the two.
Be sure to check the audio box if you don’t have a microphone on your PC. Click it Start button, and you should be logged in. Most video chat apps should recognize DroidCam as a valid webcam, but you may need to restart them if they were running when installing DroidCam. (Skype is an exception, which can be a bit finicky, you may need to use the older non-Microsoft Store version.)
In my experience, DroidCam has performed quite well. Friends on the other end of the phone said that the quality of the SD video is good, but there might be a bit of a lag. Some have had issues with the sound coming from my phone, so my computer’s microphone was always ideal.
You can adjust a few things in the settings like which camera to use (front or rear), which microphone to use (camera or speaker), and a few battery saving features, but be aware that it probably won’t be too although a traditional webcam.
If you’d rather connect via USB rather than Wi-Fi, DroidCam can do that as well, although that does require a bit of advanced finagling with some phone-specific drivers. You can refer to DroidCam’s instructions here. Even if you stick with the Wi-Fi, you might want to charge your phone while video chatting, as this will drain the battery pretty quickly.
For iPhone users: EpocCam
If you have an iPhone, EpocCam is the app I would recommend to turn it into a webcam. However, the free version comes with intrusive ads and very few features, almost requiring the paid $ 7.99 upgrade. With the upgrade, you get microphone support, HD video, USB connections, and zoom / focus adjustments.
To use EpocCam, download the EpocCam app to your iPhone and download the drivers for Windows or macOS. You may need to restart your computer after installing the desktop software. Once you have restarted you can launch the EpocCam Viewer app on your computer alongside the EpocCam app on your phone to see if it works.
As long as the two devices are on the same Wi-Fi network or connected by USB, they should connect without any additional steps. EpocCam should appear as a webcam for Zoom, Hangouts, or any video chat apps you might be using.
In my testing this worked as well as I expected despite annoying full screen ads and watermark on your video, but if you’re not ready to upgrade, DroidCam may be the best option overall. . Your mileage may vary, however.
If the above apps don’t quite meet your standards, or if you prefer not to use third-party software, you can just use your phone without your PC. Most video conferencing apps, including Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, and others, have mobile apps that you can use to chat right from your phone. You won’t be able to see your friends or colleagues as easily on the small screen, but it will do the trick when you don’t need a PC. (If you have an iPad or Android tablet with a front camera, great.)
If you like to see people on a bigger screen or need to use screen sharing from your computer, here’s a nifty workaround: Connect to video conferencing using both your PC and your phone (again once, using the mobile app for Zoom, Skype, or any other app your compatriots need). You can use your phone to transmit your video, but use the PC to see and hear everyone. As long as you have enough bandwidth to handle both chats at once, it will be up and running in the blink of an eye.
Whichever option you use, make sure you have a good way to hold your phone upright, so that you don’t have to reach for an hour. I used a flexible Gorillapod that I already had, but pretty much any phone or tablet holder should work. You may just need to lean it on some pounds to bring it to eye level to avoid giving anyone a bird’s eye view.