We've rounded up the most frequently asked questions on Camo here.
Check out our launch announcement, here.
Camo is compatible with Zoom, Meet, Microsoft Teams and many others. It is not compatible with FaceTime or Safari.
Camo Studio is able to integrate with most apps that don't automatically support it. To access integrations, click "Help" on the top of the Camo Studio window.
|App||Supported on macOS||Supported on Windows|
|Zoom||✅ Yes, from 5.0.5+||✅|
|Meet||✅ Yes, with Chrome, Firefox, Edge||✅|
|BlueJeans||✅ Yes, from 2.20+|
|OBS Studio||✅ Yes||✅|
|Twitch Studio||✅ Yes|
|Ecamm Live||✅ Yes|
|QuickTime Player||✅ Yes, but not Big Sur||N/A|
|Microsoft Teams||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Snap Camera||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Skype||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio||✅ Yes, with direct downloaded Skype|
|Skype for Business||⛔️ See roadmap|
|Camtasia||⛔️ See roadmap|
|Discord||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio||✅ Yes|
|Cisco WebEx Teams||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Slack||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio||✅ Yes|
|Screen.so||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Amazon Chime||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|HighFive||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Blizz||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Vidrio||✅ See "Help" in Camo Studio|
|Cisco WebEx Meetings||⛔️ See roadmap|
|Photo Booth||⛔️ See roadmap||N/A|
|FaceTime||⛔️ See roadmap||N/A|
|iMovie||⛔️ See roadmap||N/A|
Supported browser-based apps
|Facebook Workplace||✅ Yes|
|Microsoft Teams||✅ Yes|
|Zoho Meeting||✅ Yes|
We don't know if these work, because we've not been able to get a copy of them, or we've found we can't easily get them running without the need for accounts. If you use these apps and can help us test, please let us know!
- Scopia Desktop
There's no easy answer to this question, as it depends on a number of factors.
- The quality of video that your video conferencing app is willing to send and receive
- The speed of your internet connection
- The speed of the internet connection of the people you're talking to
- Your computer's speed
Some conferencing apps — like Google Meet — have a high upper bound on the resolution they'll use. That means that if you can get great resolution, they'll likely use it. That means that using 1080p is usually worthwhile with Meet.
Others, such as Zoom, may aggressively limit transmitted resolution. In Zoom's case, it'll use 180p or 360p on a normal account, and 720p or 1080p on a paid, business account. (They call this "Group HD".)
Counter-intuitively, just because a video app will only use a certain resolution doesn't mean you shouldn't be feeding it higher resolution video. It's easily demonstrable in Zoom that providing it with a 1080p video feed results in a better image quality for other participants than sending it a 720p feed. (To see this for yourself, you'll need to connect to your Zoom meeting from another computer, as each computer won't accurately show you how you're being seen by other participants.)
Some video-conferencing apps insist or prefer on transmitting video in 16:9 format. That means that feeding the video in other aspect ratios leads to more processing, as the app will either need to trim or pad your video to make it fit.
Video resolutions can be described using a variety of labels. Here's a table showing the most common ones, along with their aspect rations and the bandwidth that's usually required to use them effectively.
|Common name||TV name||Resolution||Aspect||Bandwidth|
|4K||UHD||3860 x 2160||16:9||15 Mb/s|
|1080p||FHD||1920 x 1080||16:9||5Mb/s|
|720p||HD||1280 x 720||16:9||2Mb/s|
|480p||SD||640 x 480||4:3||1Mb/s|
|480i||SD||854 x 480||4:3||1Mb/s|
|360p||N/A||480 x 360||4:3||1Mb/s|
|240p||N/A||352 x 240||4:3||1Mb/s|
The "p" or "i" at the end of each name indicates whether they're progressive or interlaced. Interlaced resolutions are half the quality they appear to be, as only every other line is read. Thus, if in doubt, it's a "p" resolution that you want.
With all this said, the answer in most cases:
- You should send the highest resolution video that you can, because even if your video conferencing app won't send at that quality, it'll help it encode well
- If you don't have a lot of bandwidth, it should be possible to trust your conferencing app to degrade the video quality automatically to handle this
- The only reason to use a lower resolution feed is where your computer lacks the processing power to handle higher resolution video, or where you want to reduce the processing load on the computer
Using Camo in 4K is a great way to get extremely high quality video. However, there are reasons not to use 4K in some cases.
When streaming, it's best to tell Camo to provide video in the resolution and format most likely to be used by the apps you're running.
Video conferencing apps such Zoom and Meet do not stream in 4K: consequently, if you provide them a 4K video source, they will have to downscale it on your computer in realtime. This will:
- Look worse for other people on your calls
- Give your computer more work to do, making it hotter and slower
At present, Zoom will almost never use more than 720p, and Google Meet won't go over 1080p.
Additionally, whilst many iOS devices are able to provide 4K video, this places a significant workload on both the iOS device and the receiving computer, which can cause slowdowns and generate heat. We do not recommend using 4K on older equipment.
Being able to get webcam video in the right resolution for your streaming service is a significant benefit that Camo has over dedicated webcams, which dumbly send whatever native resolution they support all the time.
A large number of apps have native support for Camo and don't require installation of an integration.
However, some apps require automatic modification by Camo in order to work. There are few consequence of using Camo's "Install Integration" feature:
- If you'd previously granted the app permission to screen share, you'll need to remove that permission and add it again before it'll be able share the screen. You can do this under
Security & Privacy→
- Apps that store credentials in your Mac's keychain will need to ask for access. Some of them may trigger a few prompts such as the below. Hit "Always allow" and they won't prompt you in future. (Note, when they access different parts of the keychain they trigger a different prompt, so you may need to choose "Always allow" a few times.)
- When the app next updates or modifies itself, this process will need to be run again by Camo. Similarly, the process can be undone by reinstalling the app.
- The process removes the "code signature" from the video conferencing app in question. This make it easier for other processes to modify it. Whilst that's not ideal, it doesn't pose a large intrinsic risk (where a dedicated video handling process exists), and it was noted macOS security expert Patrick Wardle who pioneered this approach.
For more information on what this does and how it can be avoided, see here.
When using hosted app environments such as Citrix Workspace, administrator involvement may be required to make integration installation work.
We're keen to deepen Camo's integration with other apps, and we've already got native integration with Zoom, Google, and Apple QuickTime Player.
- If you're a user of a product that doesn't support Camo, please send them this and ask for their help.
- If you're a decision-maker at a video app maker who is interested in doing this, please get in touch.
Video apps take a number of approaches when it comes to using cameras. Most products and browsers allow access to any camera product a user has installed. Zoom and others have a certification programme whereby vendors like Reincubate are approved and specifically allowed. However, some products block use of "virtual" cameras like Camo. Why's that?
Apple are in the process of replacing the framework they use to work with third-party cameras. This work was started in macOS 10.14 and has remained incomplete for some time. Until this is complete, unless video conferencing apps use the "disable library validation" entitlement, they will only load virtual cameras that were made by Apple, or made by the makers of the video conferencing app.
Apple haven't yet completed a mechanism to replace this, and as such virtual cameras won't work in Safari and FaceTime. That's an odd state of affairs, as any cheap hardware camera or Raspberry Pi with potentially malicious functionality will work.
In order for a video conferencing app to support Camo, its developers need to add the
com.apple.security.cs.disable-library-validation entitlement to their product. This isn't a big security issue for apps that use a dedicated process for handling video: after all, Google do it in all of their products, including Chrome, and Apple do it in QuickTime Player.
(Developers building apps with Electron should note that the framework splits functionality across a number of embedded apps within the main app bundle. Depending on their architecture, it may be these sub-apps that require the entitlement. Using Skype as an example, the embedded
Skype Helper (Renderer).app is the critical piece. Which app or apps require the entitlement depends on how the developers manage camera usage.)
Some developers may wish to build an allow-list to enable only certainly virtual cameras to work, much like Zoom do. (Where this is the case, Camo's signing certificate name should be added:
Developer ID Application: Reincubate Ltd (Q248YREB53).)
Where developers haven't put this entitlement in place or built an allow-list, Camo is able to automatically bypass it using its "Integration" feature. Essentially, it works using a process described on StackOverflow whereby it removes the code-signature from an app.
Here are some of our most valued tips for getting better results from video conferencing apps:
- Zoom shows you a mirrored view by default, which isn't what anyone you're talking to will see. We recommend you disable it. Camo Studio will always show you what other people will see.
- Zoom is very careful not to tax the CPU on your Mac heavily. As such, if it's told to change your video format, it may lower the quality a lot to avoid slow re-encoding. To prevent this from happening, set
Original ratioin zoom, and rely on Camo to get the right ratio directly from your phone.
- Copying the meeting's invitation code to the clipboard can be a pain, but you can configure Zoom to automatically copy the meeting code to your clipboard when a meeting starts. See
Copy invite link when starting a meeting.
- Zoom won't let you use virtual backgrounds in portrait mode video. You can get around this by rotating device to one side, turning on "orientation lock" in iOS, and then using the rotation feature in Camo Studio. That'll let you take a stream in landscape, rotate it to portrait mode, and then run a virtual background on it in Zoom.
- If you're recording meetings, we've seen Zoom will only create an HD recording if users use 720p video. We've seen Zoom create 360p recordings when users use 1080p locally. This is counter-intuitive, and likely something Zoom will fix in a future release. The solution is to set Camo to stream 720p in the meantime.
- We find we get terrible video quality in Google Meet when using Safari (irrespective of whether we use Camo or a hardware camera); switching to Google Chrome results in much higher image quality.
- You can change Google Chrome's default camera, and stop it from repeatedly prompting for camera access if you visit this special URL: chrome://settings/content/camera.
Camo connects to your computer over the usual USB / lightning connection that's used to connect an iPhone to a computer. Plug in the USB and you're all set.
We avoid using Wi-Fi as it can complicate pairing and security, and reduces the speed at which data can be transmitted. However, we do expect to ship Wi-Fi support in future.
We've worked hard to make Camo seamless, but in some cases it's difficult to comprehensively work around things that video conferencing products do.
In particular, some video conferencing apps mirror a user's video feed (ie. they flip it horizontally, left to right) when previewing it locally. This means that users might be transmitting something different to what they're seeing.
Here's what you should bear in mind:
Camo always shows you what it's transmitting. If you choose to mirror or rotate your feed in Camo, what you see is what we pass off to any video apps you're using. When it's your video feed, Camo never disconnects what you see from what other people see.
Zoom defaults to mirroring your own video in its preview but not to the other people you're on a call with. As such, people you're talking to will see you are you are in Camo Studio, but not as you are in Zoom. At least, not unless you untick the
Mirror my videosetting in Zoom.
When Camo needs attention or needs to indicate its status in a way that affects the video feed — no device is connected, the video is paused, or Camo Studio isn't running — we try to indicate that in a sensible way, with text that can be read in both orientations.
Yes, it does. Make sure you don't have orientation lock enabled on your phone.
At present, Camo supports portrait mode and any landscape orientation. It doesn't currently support upside-down portrait mode, but that's coming soon.
We put this in place so that users were less likely to accidentally close Camo whilst mounting their phones.
There are two things that Camo Studio requires administrator access for when setting up:
- Copying the Camo Studio app into
Applicationson the user's computer
- Copying the latest version of Camo Studio's virtual camera plugin into the computer's system library
We recommend that all non-technical users use Camo Studio's installer as normal, and provide it with an administrator password when requested.
Both of the installation steps will be automatically completely undone if the user chooses to uninstall Camo Studio. Camo Studio does not record or transmit any passwords or recordings.
Camo Studio's installer process is smart: when you run Camo Studio, it'll only request admin privileges if there are installation steps that haven't yet been completed. This allows system administrators or users with non-privileged access to arrange for alternative installation methods.
By ensuring Camo Studio is copied to the computer's
Applications folder, the first reason for the installation prompt will be satisfied.
By manually copying the virtual camera plugin to the system library, the second reason for the installation prompt will be satisfied. This can be done with the following command:
sudo cp -rp /Applications/Camo\ Studio.app/Contents/PlugIns/ReincubateCamoDAL.plugin /Library/CoreMediaIO/Plug-Ins/DAL/
With these steps completed, Camo Studio will not prompt the user for an administrator password, and will not need one.
Alternately, the following commands can be used to install or uninstall the plugin from the command-line:
sudo /Applications/Camo\ Studio.app/Contents/MacOS/Camo\ Studio -install sudo /Applications/Camo\ Studio.app/Contents/MacOS/Camo\ Studio -uninstall
Note that if Camo Studio is upgraded, and its virtual camera plugin is updated, it will be necessary to update the copy of the plugin. Whilst it is technically possible to install the plugin to
~/Library/CoreMediaIO/DAL without admin privileges, this is not sufficient for many apps including Zoom, which require privileged installation.
In order to keep your Mac as fast as possible, it offloads all of the processing to your phone. You'll find that over time this can make the phone quite warm.
If you've ever used Jitsi's "Blur my background" feature, you'll have experience with how a fairly simple video feature implemented on the Mac can reduce your computer to a crawl.
This isn't something to worry about: all iOS devices have thermal throttling built in, and they're able to manage themselves effectively as they warm up. The insides of your Mac get a lot hotter!
Your phone won't get too hot. We've regularly sat on 13 hour Zoom calls running Camo with no problems.
One of the reasons we orient Camo users towards using a cabled connection is that using the phone's Wi-Fi chip strains the battery more and creates more heat than when using a cabled connection.
In order to be able to communicate with your iPhone, Camo Studio on Windows needs to install Apple's standard mobile components. Users that have iTunes installed will typically already have these components. If they're not available, Camo Studio will prompt the user to install them. This will trigger a download of approximately 50Mb in the background.
Camo's manual describes the differences between the free and paid versions of Camo.
Camo uses a subscription mechanism so we can focus on building an amazing product. How does that work?
It helps us invest more in Camo
We don’t like charging people for newer versions. We shipped iPhone Backup Extractor with perpetual licenses back in 2008, and still have users writing in from 12 years back for support. That’s great, but it doesn’t pay the bills, and developing our products isn’t cheap.
If we sold perpetual licenses, we’d have to ask ourselves “which features do we put in 2.0 or 3.0 so that we can ask people for more money again in a year or two’s time?”. We don’t think that’s right, and we want to put all our energy into making our apps amazing.
We hope you’re buying Camo for the functionality it has now, and we hope you love it. If we’d built it and had no more ideas, the subscription would be less important. But we’re only getting started: Camo has a roadmap with a lot of things no one’s done before, and we want to get those things in your hands. Sure, we get it: dumb software that doesn’t change and doesn’t have overhead cost shouldn’t be sold with a subscription. Camo isn’t that.
It helps us keep Camo working
Sometimes users ask “can’t I just pay a little more and own the license forever?” If Camo was a build-it-once-and-its-done app like a text editor, we could reach a point where we were done and leave it be, save looking at adding support for whatever OS updates were around the corner. That’s not true of Camo. It has to contend with:
- Integration with dozens of video apps & integrations which come and go and change with great frequency (Zoom alone ship several updates a month)
- Making something that’s fundamentally complicated easy for users — this requires us to be on the front foot with changes we make
- Optimisation for different macOS and iOS devices (which ship several times a year, and support macOS and iOS betas with a day or two of them being available)
How would you feel if you bought Camo but it just stopped working?
What users want is to own the product, but also to have it updated and supported indefinitely.
It helps avoid poor experiences on old releases
An alternative to having a subscription is to sell lifetime license but charge extra for extended upgrades and support. Again, we used to do this with other products.
We sold support alongside perpetual licenses in years past with our other products: the problem we discovered was that it means we end up with users having a bad experience with outdated or unsupported versions of our product. That’s not great for users and it’s not great for us, and it’s more complex for everyone.
Where there are separate support costs, users want them to be low. But cheap support isn’t our thing. We don’t outsource support. We hire experts, pay them well, retain them, and go above and beyond time and again in user support. You’ll see photos of some of the support team on our site and in our products — we’re very proud of them. (Users recognise the quality and commitment of our support in our Trustpilot reviews.)
It helps lower the cost of Camo
By selling subscriptions for a period of time, people who use over a longer time will cover more of the cost of building it than users who don’t. That’s fairer all around.