Apple has confirmed that the digital pan and zoom feature of the front camera on the new M1 iPad Pro can work with any video conferencing app, not just FaceTime. That opens the door for popular apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to make remote working and e-learning blend more seamlessly with the realities of pandemic life, a hybrid lifestyle that will likely continue even after the outbreak. disappear.
Center Stage, as Apple calls it, keeps video conference participants properly framed even as they move around a room by combining machine learning with a fixed 12-megapixel sensor that offers an ultra-wide 122-degree field of view. We’ve seen a similar following on Portal TV, the Echo Show 10, and even the Xbox Kinect accessory. But those are niche devices compared to the iPad, which saw a spike in sales last year as students and remote workers took up the tablets in droves.
“Center Stage works with FaceTime and other video conferencing apps,” Apple says on the iPad Pro home page. Apple missed the opportunity to scale FaceTime to compete with companies like Zoom and Teams by failing to deliver on its promise to make it a standard for the iPad. industry in favor of blocking the ecosystem.
Apple demonstrated Center Stage with two participants, both of whom are recognized and appropriately framed as they move through the kitchen, on a FaceTime call with a third party. It is a good demonstration; The COVID-19 pandemic has combined work and life so difficultly that it is now quite common to see people preparing dinner during a Zoom meeting in different international time zones, or a child asking for their parents’ help during a Teams school lesson. Technology like Center Stage can help further infuse this sense of humanity into our stoic professional and educational pursuits.
Unfortunately, the position of the front camera, even on the new iPad Pro M1, makes participants appear to be looking to the side when used with a keyboard dock, as is common for business and school uses. And iPadOS creates other frustrations for video conferencing. Hopefully the iPad Pro is just the beginning and we’ll soon see ultrawide cameras center stage to the much-maligned but better-positioned MacBook webcams.