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This Windows app could turn your Android phone into a webcam

Code in the latest version of Microsoft's 'Link to Windows' app suggests that your PC could soon stream your phone's camera.
By Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Microsoft/ZDNET

One of the biggest selling points of the Apple ecosystem is how seamlessly all devices work together, such as using your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac. Microsoft's Phone Link is a serviceable equivalent for Android, however, letting users control their phone from their computer.

And if some new hints are any indication, this Windows-Android synergy could soon be getting a big upgrade -- an Apple-like ability to see your phone's camera on your computer.

Also: The best Android phones that we tested this year

This feature was first spotted by Android Authority, which took a deep dive into the code for the latest version of Microsoft's "Link to Windows" app. In that app, there's some new code that suggests PC users may soon be able to use their connected phone as a webcam.

While Phone Link can already access the phone's camera to a degree and make video calls, the current functionality simply mirrors apps running on the phone. The new code appears to be a totally independent process.

Phrases like "Tap this notification to allow your PC to stream your camera video" appear in the new code, as do "Pause video," "Resume video," "Switch to back," and "Switch to front." Code also appears that mentions Zoom-like video effects -- auto framing, blur, face retouch, and soft focus. The coding does not mention "webcam" anywhere specifically, but it's clear from the filters and framing options that video with people in the intended use. 

The upcoming Phone Link features appear similar to Continuity from Apple, where users can access an iPhone's camera through a Mac for video calls.

Also: The 12 Windows apps I keep (and the 11 I dump) on every new install

There's a chance the features will be limited to certain devices, though, as only recent Samsung flagship phones like the Galaxy and the OnePlus 11 have Link to Windows as a part of their built-in software.

Microsoft hasn't released anything officially, so there's no timeline available on an announcement. But in previous years, new features for Phone Link have been announced alongside Samsung phones. With the Galaxy S24 set for a February 2024 launch, there's a good chance we could see something official by then. 

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