Center Stage Keeps You in the Video Chat Frame

Originally published at: Center Stage Keeps You in the Video Chat Frame - TidBITS

Apple recently unveiled an iPad camera feature called Center Stage that keeps one or more people within the frame during video chats even when they move around. Julio Ojeda-Zapata gave Center Stage a try and compared it to smart displays from Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Interesting survey Julio, and fun to see you bounce around your space.

I am curious to use my iPad Pro for Zoom meetings when dealing with staff, (for students I need to be able to share too many app screens), and Microsoft Teams (uggghhh) too. No sign of Centre Stage integration there.

An interesting rumor about how the iPad might go landscape soon.

I realise the iPad costs more than most of the ‘smart displays’ you tested, but to be honest I was surprised at how expensive even the cheapest smart display is. $150-$250 seems like a lot of money to pay for such limited devices. I would struggle to justify this even if they sounded attractive, and I’m not even on that tight of a budget.

But great article, and thanks for taking the time to test and compare these all. I especially like the animations showing the various versions of tracking and zooming – never having seen these devices I don’t know what current state of the art is, so all very interesting. :grin:

There’s a fair amount of hardware in these things, since they need a decent screen and speaker, good microphones, Wi-Fi, and a processor that manage it all. So I’m not too surprised by the pricing, although it will probably come down as the manufacturers achieve more economies of scale.

Still, an entry-level iPad is how I’d go if I were considering one of these devices. Many other capabilities and it wouldn’t be clamoring for my attention or taking up space on a counter all the time. It’s only a little more expensive than most of the competition, and from Julio’s testing, Center Stage really is better.

I still don’t understand why Apple isn’t enabling Center Stage on other iPad models and Mac laptops. My son Tristan suggested it might have to do with needing a wide-angle front-facing camera, but I haven’t yet had a chance to compare specs to see if that’s what Apple has been changing in the three supported iPad lines.

I think this is it – they announced a new wide angle lens in the two iPads introduced at the recent event, and also last year in the iPad Pro. I imagine there’s just not enough of a field to work with in all the older cameras. :pensive:

Maybe because I don’t use video chat/conferencing apps at all, but I never understood why Zoom was so popular during the pandemic; I thought FaceTime was supposed to be the gold standard of those types of apps…?

Everybody can get Zoom, not even app required. FaceTime is an Apple only thing. Requires dedicated hardware as such.

Far from it—FaceTime has historically been the weakest videoconferencing service.

Which is why the features Apple said it was adding to FaceTime in iOS 15 et al. merely bring it up to the base level of Zoom at best. It’s still well behind, but at least it’s no longer quite so embarrassing.