Among the many (many!) things unveiled at Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ event, this week was a new FaceTime camera on the new, beefy iPad Pros.
This new Ultra Wide angle lens had a new feature called ‘Centre Stage’. This feature for FaceTime calls (and, thankfully, other video apps thanks to an API) - taking advantage of the wider angle of the camera lens - would zoom in, pan and zoom out as needed to keep the caller, well, centre stage. It even zooms out when someone else enters the frame and is seen to be talking at the iPad.
It all looked very clever and felt like those sci-fi shows and movies where video calls would follow the caller around rather than stay static.
Unfortunately, this got me thinking and made me realise that this signalled something: Apple isn’t planning on moving the front-facing camera to the long side of the iPad any time soon.
This would have been a perfect time. The new iPad Pros were getting brand new M1 processors and Retina XDR screens on the 12.9 version. This was the chance.
I wrote last year about moving the camera and investigated how easy that would be. The conclusion I came to was that while, of course, it was possible, it would cause a complete redesign of the guts of the iPad.
In my mind, this new feature signals that Apple knows there is an issue with the camera position (odd angles and eye-lines when having calls etc.). They’ve looked into moving it and ultimately decided it’s too difficult based on what I laid out last year.
Could we have a new position for the camera in the future? Sure! But for the near future, I think we’re stuck with weird eye-lines, slightly improved by ‘Centre Stage’. I also welcome the iPad’s ability to adjust to fit everyone in the frame. I’ve found this is often a problem when FaceTiming family these days; I always get half of one person and half another!
So, here’s to having whole people!