Can You Hook Up a Webcam to an iPad?
By David Nield
For video calls with clients and colleagues, the iPad makes sense: It's lightweight, fast and simple to operate on the go. In most cases, external USB webcams cannot be connected to the iPad -- the functionality isn't supported by the device's architecture -- but the tablet does offer both front-facing and rear-facing cameras that can be used as integrated webcams with a variety of apps. A small number of wireless webcams, including the Logitech Broadcaster, can be used with the webcam via the appropriate app.
Power up your iPad and launch the video calling app of your choice. Available apps include Apple's own FaceTime, which comes with iOS, and third-party tools such as Google Hangouts and Skype.
Select the contact you wish to call from within the app and launch the video functionality. The video connection is established and the iPad automatically makes the front-facing camera available as a webcam.
Tap the camera switch icon (usually a camera contained within an arrow) to switch to the back-facing camera instead. This option is not available in all video calling apps, but enables you to focus attention on what's in front of you rather than your face.
End the call and disable the internal cameras by tapping on the hang up or end call icon (typically a red handset symbol). The video feed is then disabled and the iPad's cameras are available to use by other applications.
While traditional USB webcams cannot connect to an iPad in order to be used for video calls, a small number of devices can connect wirelessly and be accessed through a dedicated app. One of these devices is the Logitech Broadcaster, which can be used as a webcam provided the device and the iPad are registered on the same wireless network. The Broadcaster iOS app is then used to connect with and stream video from the Broadcaster.
The steps above apply to the most recent iPad and iPad mini models as of June 2013, running the latest iOS 6.1.3 software. The first-generation iPad does not have a back-facing or front-facing camera installed and thus cannot be used to make video calls.
Making video calls over cellular networks may incur charges from your mobile network operator. Check your data plan for details of how much video calling could cost you. For the fastest possible speeds, connect to a Wi-Fi network before making a video call.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.