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Windows 11 now lets Insiders use their Android smartphones as webcams [Update]

An illustration showing Phone Link capabilities - a phone next to a Windows PC

UPDATE 3/19: Microsoft has published an update to its blog post, originally published on 2/29 that it has expanded the rollout introducing the ability to use your Android phone or tablet camera in any video application on your Windows 11 PC to all Windows Insiders across all Insider Channels.

The original article continue below, and now applies to all Windows 11 Insider Preview editions.

After announcing the initial rollout of the Windows 11 Moment 5 update, Microsoft unwrapped a big new feature for Windows Insiders. Its first traces were spotted in Windows 11 preview builds many months ago. Now it is finally official: Microsoft's operating system now lets you use your Android smartphone as a high-quality webcam.

Cameras in modern Windows laptops are pretty alright, but they are still a far cry from what even inexpensive Android smartphones offer. Therefore, those wanting a better webcam should either purchase a discrete camera or use third-party, often premium, software to turn their smartphones into webcams. With today's update for Windows Insiders, Windows 11 can natively use your Android device as a webcam.

Windows Insiders can connect their phones to their PCs and enjoy much better image quality with the ability to switch between cameras, pause the stream, and apply on-device effects. In addition, there is no need for any cables—the experience works wirelessly over Wi-Fi. When using a smartphone as a webcam, Windows 11 will present you with a special toolbar containing additional options to switch cameras, pause video, turn on HDR, and more. Also, you can check your device's battery.

Webcam UI in Windows 11

If you want to try using an Android smartphone as a camera for Windows, update the Link to Windows app to version 1.24012 or newer. Besides, your phone should run Android 9.0 or greater. After that, go to your PC's Settings > Bluetooth & Devices > Mobile Devices, choose "Mobile Devices," and allow your computer to access your Android phone. After that, Windows 11 will prompt you to install an update for Cros Device Experience Host.

iPhone users are sadly unsupported, but they can get the same experience using third-party apps. Also, macOS lets you use an iPhone as a webcam without additional software.

Since Microsoft no longer owns a mobile platform, it is good to see the company making good use of Android and providing users with advanced features.

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