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Google seems to be adding an in-built webcam functionality to select Android phones starting with Android 14. So far, there’s already a service in the works dubbed ‘DeviceAsWebcam’ that provides video data over a USB connection.
There’s no word on the feature’s release date, nor what devices it will support. That said, if the feature is to release in Android 14, we might be able to see some form of a working prototype by the time the developer preview process for the upcoming OS starts.
Since Google is opting to use the USB Video Class (UVC), there don’t seem to be any limitations on how you can use your phone as a webcam. The standard should be widely supported, meaning most phones should support the feature.
This means that all phones that support the UVC gadget mode will be able to send the video data that a host, in this case, your computer will be able to read by accessing from the /dev/video* nodes. Compared to something like Apple’s Continuity Camera, which only works between iOS and macOS devices, this is a much more inclusive decision.
There are apps on the Google Play Store that allow using your Android phone as a webcam, but since this is going to be a system app unless Google provides a generic app from the get-go, developers will have to come up with their own apps. Considering the Android ecosystem and development scene, this shouldn’t really be a problem as long as the OS supports the capability natively.
Security is also a question when you’re dealing with a core service that handles video feeds over a connection. According to the Android Open Source Project tracker, the service has already been made to prevent non-system apps from reading the ro.usb.uvc feed.