Android 14 beta gives Pixel phones a taste of Apple's handy webcam feature

Google Pixel 7 Pro hands on back angled Snow
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 has arrived on Pixel devices, introducing a variety of fresh features. Chief among them is the ability to turn your smartphone into a webcam.

It’s basically the Android version of Continuity Camera for iPhone although there are some key differences, according to 9To5Google’s breakdown. Most notably, and this may disappoint some, you need to connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable.  Continuity Camera, on the other hand, works wirelessly The good news is the tech isn’t restricted to specific hardware or an operating system. Any computer “that can handle a standard webcam can use [a Pixel] as one”. 

Setting up

The report details the process of setting up the mobile device. Upon connecting your Pixel, a new “Webcam” option will appear in the USB Preferences menu. Selecting it launches a notification titled “Device as Webcam”. Tapping said notification opens an app where you can preview the video feed and make tweaks to it.

The tech does seem to work with third-party software like Zoom and Google Meet. You should see “Android Camera” pop up on those apps. Clicking that connects the Pixel to the software.

There are some important restrictions regarding this feature. Industry insider Mishaal Rahman stated on X (formerly known as Twitter) that it only works with the Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 lines. Also, you can’t use the telephoto lens on the Pixel 7 Pro. It's not supported. Interestingly, Rahman claims this functionality will not be exclusive to Google Pixel as his sources state it will be a “part of Android 14’s source code”. 

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Notable inclusions

It’s unknown when Android 14 will launch. The prevailing theory currently is the date is set for sometime in October to coincide with the release of the Pixel 8. If you’re interested in trying out the webcam tool and more, you can head on over to the Android beta program on Google’s website, check if you have an eligible device, and then sign up.

Even if you don’t own a Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 model, that’s okay because there is more to the beta. For instance, you can try out the “new lock screen clock” sporting a “Metro” style. The App Pair saving tool from earlier this year is now fully functional. Additionally, the Pixel Launcher has an “Edit Home Screen” button letting you move widgets “without having to constantly reselect stuff”. 

Keep in mind everything here is still under development. Some things may not work as intended.

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The beta is certainly an interesting update. However, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed. It feels like Android is simply trying to catch up to iOS. If you look at the rest of the features Android 14 is slated to get, many of them are already on iPhones like full support for passkeys and satellite communication. There’s nothing wrong with these, but we were hoping for more. Something that would give Android an edge.

If you want to know what Apple has been cooking, check out TechRadar’s breakdown of the best seven features on the iPhone 15

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.