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Updated by Christian Cawley on October 28th, 2016.

Don’t have a webcam, but need to make an urgent video call on Skype or some other video conferencing service? Perhaps you already have a webcam and want to add a second camera to your setup?

All you need is your Android phone and a suitable app.

Why Use Your Phone As A Webcam?

You’re caught short. Your children want to chat with their grandparents over Skype. Or perhaps it’s your boss, wanting a teleconference to discuss that report you submitted.

But you don’t have a webcam.

Although they come built into many monitors and all-in-one PCs, not everyone has a webcam. Peripheral webcams are popular, but they can prove tricky to install and temperamental even when they’re set up correctly.

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The solution is something we’ve covered previously on MakeUseOf How to Use an Android Device as a PC Webcam How to Use an Android Device as a PC Webcam If you need to make a few Skype calls or want to start a Hangout on Google Plus, but don't have the necessary equipment at hand, don't run off to the hardware store just yet!... Read More , but time has moved on. Arguably the best — perhaps really, the only — choice you should make is to install DroidCam, an Android app that turns your smartphone (and if you have a good device for grabbing it, your tablet) into a handy, portable webcam.

DroidCam

DroidCam comes in two parts, an Android app that is free from Google Play (premium $4.00 version also available), and the desktop client component, which is available from www.dev47apps.com/droidcam for Windows and Linux.

Begin by installing the Android app. With this done, switch your attention to your desktop PC. After downloading, unzip and run, following any on-screen instructions.

muo-android-webcams-droidcam-android

Once launched, you’ll be invited to input the IP address for your DroidCam. This should be easy to find, just run the app on your Android and it will be displayed, as well as the port number. Back on the desktop client, you’ll notice that it is possible to stream audio from your phone as well, and choose video quality — low, normal, and high are available.

Should you opt to connect via USB, all you’ll need is the USB cable that came with your phone.

When you’re ready to proceed, click Start to begin streaming. The mobile app will then send the image from your phone’s camera to your computer. For devices with two cameras, tap the Settings button on the mobile app and check the appropriate box to switch to the camera you want to use.

muo-android-webcams-droidcam-pc

Although the free version of DroidCam offers some good options, it isn’t perfect. For instance, you can only use the webcam in landscape mode, zooming is limited as is resolution, brightness, and various other controls that are found in the menu across the bottom of the DroidCam desktop client.

To activate these, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version of DroidCam. Naturally, we would only recommend that you do this if you feel you’ll use these features, otherwise remain with the free DroidCam release.

Download: DroidCam for Android (Free/Premium)

IP Webcam

A strong alternative to DroidCam, IP Webcam is also available as a free app from Google Play, with a premium upgrade available ($3.99). The PC viewer can be downloaded from ip-webcam.appspot.com.

muo-android-webcams-droidcam-ipwebcam

Setup is largely the same as with DroidCam. However, although there is a configuration tool that you will need to fill in, IP Webcam requires you to view the output through your web browser. Only Chrome or Firefox are accepted here, so Windows users can’t use internet Explorer as it doesn’t stream correctly. You’ll need to use the http://[IP ADDRESS]:8080/videofeed URL to view the feed.

Various image resolutions are available for video and stills, and rear smartphone cameras are supported, although front-facing cameras aren’t yet fully supported.

Once you’re up and running, tap the Actions… button on your Android device to check the app is running correctly, to stop and start the camera, and more. Want to know more? Check our previous assessment of IP Webcam IP Webcam: Use Your Android Phone As A Web Cam IP Webcam: Use Your Android Phone As A Web Cam Read More , or just start using it…

Download: IP Webcam for Android (Free/Premium).

Sharing Your Webcam With Skype or Hangouts

You’ve setup a webcam and it is streaming images from your phone’s camera to your computer. But how do you use it within an application like Skype?

Simple. The client, once installed, is recognised by your operating system as a new webcam. All you need to do is use the appropriate menu option in your chosen video chat app to select the camera. This will work with DroidCam, but not IP Webcam.

muo-android-webcams-skype

In Skype, this would be Tools > Options > Video settings, where you’ll find the Select webcam dropdown menu. Select your Android webcam from the menu, click Save and you’re done. You’re not limited to Skype, incidentally, as other chat services supporting video should accept video from your smartphone camera, including Hangouts, which, as we know, is cooler than Skype 5 Reasons Google Hangouts Are Cooler Than Skype For Video Chats 5 Reasons Google Hangouts Are Cooler Than Skype For Video Chats Hangouts is Google's take on chat rooms. Like many times before, Google has turned a good idea into something incredibly useful, while preserving simplicity and ease of use and thus making it fantastic. In this... Read More .

Remember when using any webcam for video chats to make sure you follow our steps for looking presentable and professional How To Look Good On a Webcam How To Look Good On a Webcam Here's a little something many of us dread - webcam meetings. It's one thing to chat with friends and family using Skype or Google Hangouts, but it's another thing completely to try to look good... Read More .

Who Wins?

We’ve been looking at the free options for each of these apps, and there is a good reason for this. If the free version works and is competent, then there’s a strong chance that the full version will be equally — if not more — impressive.

Assessing these Android webcam apps, I’ve noticed two key things: the variation in the number of features available in each, and how easy they are to setup.

So, the winner is DroidCam, for being very easy to setup and providing good support for messenger apps. While the features on offer are limited, it gets the job done.

But what do you think? Have we missed an Android webcam app that you rely on? Tell us in the comments.

  1. Raghotham
    June 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks a lot saved my life

  2. Husayn
    May 29, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Ah, thanks for this write-up. I was looking for something that would do this (TBH, I thought I might've just come up with a novel new idea that I could turn into a fortune lol), and your article explained how to do it (with options!) beautifully. Great write up, and thanks!

  3. tharuna
    October 9, 2015 at 11:40 am

    You missed out on "Webeecam". Has both free and pro versions and yes it does have options for sound recording using mic from the phone.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Webeecam looks like an interesting option, thanks for sharing.

      • RedRaw
        May 31, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        looks more like a "connect a webcam to a tablet or phone" than a "use phone as webcam.

  4. Alexandre Morin (CenterServ)
    September 6, 2015 at 2:14 am

    You can simply use http://www.streamance.com its free and you can generate a link to stream yourself and your webcam for free.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Sounds a bit like Periscope or a live hangout, but thanks for the link.

  5. Georgia
    May 12, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    this is great ! thank you guys !!
    Quick question then - so I can turn my android phone into a dash cam and stream live while I am driving to a selected few people (on their phones or desktop PCs ) ? Is that possible? via Skype?
    Thanks

  6. Adeva
    April 7, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I want share this, In indonesia laguage.:)

    Can.?

  7. Christian Cawley
    February 10, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Good point dave. Some of these tools have mic as an option, but it really depends on your setup and whether you're willing to pay premium price for the webcam app. After all, most computers have mics built iin these days.

  8. dave
    January 30, 2015 at 2:06 am

    they should opt for mic too from the phone. comes handy if one does not have a mic.

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