What you need to know
- Samsung just announced that its Galaxy phones will soon be able to act as webcams on Windows Pcs.
- The feature will first ship to Samsung's flagship smartphones that ship later this year.
- Samsung also announced integrations between Microsoft's Copilot and Samsung smartphones and PCs.
Samsung and Microsoft are best friends in the tech world. The companies work together closely to integrate PC and smartphone experiences across Microsoft software and Samsung hardware and services. This week at CES 2024, Samsung shared two new integrations: the ability to use a Galaxy smartphone as a webcam on Windows and Microsoft's Copilot connecting to Samsung devices.
The concept of using your smartphone as a webcam is not new. Third-party developers have worked on it for years and some smartphone manufacturers have similar functionality. For example, Motorola's Ready For lets you use supported devices as a webcam. Even Android itself has this functionality in the works, though results are hit and miss. A colleague at Android Central used the Android 14 webcam feature and said it made his $1,000 Pixel 8 Pro look like a cheap camera.
With mixed reviews and limited availability for similar functionality, it makes sense that Samsung would add support for using Galaxy phones as webcams.
"Starting with our latest flagship smartphones later this year, people will be able to use the fantastic clarity and resolution of their Galaxy smartphone cameras to enhance a meeting on services like Microsoft Teams," said Samsung Head of the Connected Experience Center Jonathan Gabrio. The announcement came during Samsung's presentation at CES 2024, which was reported on by The Verge.
Gabrio said "on services like Microsoft Teams," so it seems that the functionality will work on other apps. We'll have to wait to get all the details from Samsung. It's hard to believe the company would figure out how to use its phone's excellent cameras on webcams and then limit the functionality to Microsoft Teams.
Cameras are one of the most important features on smartphones, and there's a good chance that the best camera you own is on your phone. If software support rolls out smoothly, it could save you quite a bit of money. The best webcams can cost hundreds of dollars.
Copilot on Samsung
Samsung also announced its plan to integrate Copilot into its devies. Both Android-based and Windows-based Samsung hardware will get a boost from Microsoft's Copilot. Only specific devices will gain the integration, however.
"From March this year, Galaxy Book 4 and Galaxy smartphone owners will be able to experience the incredible new capabilities supported by Microsoft Copilot," said Gabrio. "Simply connect your Galaxy Book 4 and Galaxy smartphone with Link to Windows to find, read, or summarize text messages."
Copilot will have the ability to create messages based on your history. It will also be able to send messages from a PC. Gabrio teased more Copilot integrations in the future but did not share any specifics.
We know that the Galaxy Book 4 will have a Copilot key on its keyboard, but that's because all future Windows PCs will have a Copilot key.
A little late to the party
I'm sure Samsung has a lot on its plate, being one of the biggest tech companies in the world and everything. Microsoft is in the same boat. But the timing of this announcement seems strange. Surely the time to roll out support for using a smartphone as a webcam would have been during the peak of the pandemic when so many workers and students were at home.
Microsoft and Samsung shipped several new integrations over the past few years, and I'm surprised that webcam support wasn't higher on the priority list. That being said, better late than never. Plenty of people still work remotely or in a hybrid setting. Using your smartphone as a webcam could also come in handy for anyone who hops on a Zoom call casually or every once in a while.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.