GoPro webcam feature lets people bypass their poor computer cameras for video chats

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 09 July 2020 17:29 BST
We turned to Zoom for our first virtual event
We turned to Zoom for our first virtual event (Reuters)

GoPro is rolling out new software to allow people to use their action cameras as webcams.

The feature is intended to let users bypass the poor cameras in their computers for better quality video calls as people use them to communcate through lockdown.

The feature lets people use GoPro's flagship camera – the Hero8 Black – plugged into their computer, giving them 1080p video and a wide-angle view.

The poor webcams that are included in even the highest-end laptops have led to frustration through the lockdown period, as people rely on them to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues. Towards the beginning of lockdown, for instance, technology critic Joanna Stern noted that the new MacBook Air's webcam "sucks", and that lockdown had brought the realisation that higher-quality cameras were required.

GoPro suggested that its camera could not only offer better quality, but could allow for better views for those who have taken their businesses online. Everyone from cookery teachers to fitness instructors will now be able to fit in the screen, it suggested, rather than squeezing into the usually limited view of built-in cameras.

The feature is only available on the beta version of GoPro's software, for the Mac, at the moment. But it is expected to be rolled out more broadly in time, the company suggested.

It is used by installing the new beta camera firmware from the GoPro website, installing the new webcam desktop utility, and plugging the camera in to the computer. The GoPro should then show up as a source within video calling apps.

The feature works across the most popular apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, GoPro said. GoPro cameras already have the ability to live stream to other services, such as Twitch or Facebook.

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