Mac has affirmed that the digital pan and zoom feature of the new M1 iPad Pro’s front-facing camera can work with any video conferencing app, not simply FaceTime. That opens the door for popular apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to make remote work and e-learning blend all the more consistently into the real factors of pandemic life — a hybrid lifestyle that is probably going to proceed even after the outbreak subsides.
Center Stage, as Apple brands it, keeps video conferencing participants appropriately framed even as they move about a room by combining machine learning with a fixed 12-megapixel sensor touting a ultra-wide 122‑degree field of view. They have seen similar tracking on the Portal TV, Echo Show 10, and even the Xbox Kinect accessory. In any case, those are niche devices compared to the iPad, which saw deals flood a year ago as students and remote workers snapped the tablets up in droves.
“Center Stage works with FaceTime and other video conferencing apps,” says Apple on the iPad Pro landing page. Apple botched its opportunity to scale FaceTime to compete any semblance of Zoom and Teams by reneging on its guarantee to make it an industry standard for ecosytem lock-in.
Apple demonstrated Center Stage with two participants, both of whom are recognized and framed suitably as they move about a kitchen, on a FaceTime call with a third. It’s a good demo; the COVID-19 pandemic has blended work and life so hard that it’s currently genuinely normal to see individuals making dinner during a Zoom meeting across international time zones, or a child requesting a parent’s help during a Teams school lesson. Tech like Center Stage can assist further with infuse this sense of humanity into our otherwise stoic professional and educational pursuits.
Unfortunately, the position of the front-facing camera, unaltered on the new M1 iPad Pro, causes participants to give off an impression of staring off to the side when utilized with a keyboard dock, as is normal for business and school uses. What’s more, iPadOS makes different frustrations for video conferences. Ideally the iPad Pro is only a beginning and they will see ultra-wide Center Stage cameras going to the much maligned, yet better positioned, MacBook webcams soon.