Windows 11 just torpedoed the webcam market with a new feature

From PC World: Microsoft is working to allow you to use your Android smartphone (or a spare) in place of a webcam, presumably allowing consumers access to high-quality webcams for free.

That capability isn’t quite here yet; Microsoft disclosed the upcoming feature in the context of its March 2024 “moment” update for Windows 11. But the company then put out a blog post noting that the capability was being tested in “all” Windows Insider channels. That’s unusual, as it implies that it’s being tested in the Release Preview channel as well — which means that we may see it soon.

It’s a rather big deal. Webcams were largely ignored until 2020, when the work-from-home movement during the pandemic made Zoom and Microsoft Teams video chats a priority. That meant that laptop makers began improving the quality of their webcams, and quality 1080p and 4K webcams began hitting the market. (Here are PCWorld’s picks for the best webcams.)

Presumably, however, you own more than one smartphone, assuming that you haven’t discarded an older model. Most smartphones dramatically outclass the cameras found on laptops, or even standalone webcams, whether they be front- or rear-facing.

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