Author Topic: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?  (Read 33917 times)

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Offline Ben321Topic starter

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Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« on: November 04, 2019, 10:16:35 am »
I am considering buying this adapter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGKYXVE/ which will let me connect any normal external PC USB device (not ones designed specifically for smartphones) to a smartphone with a USB-C port. My intent is to use my generic UVC (USB-video-class) USB webcam on my smartphone (does not require dedicated drivers, and on my Windows PC it works as soon as plugged in), but I don't know how Android handles webcams. I know it normally detects the two that are hardwired into the phone (the front and rear facing cameras). And most camera apps have a way of switching between these 2 cameras. However, what happens if a 3rd camera is present, such as one connected via the USB port? Does the camera automatically override one of the two built-in ones, so that when switching between the cameras in an app, one of the two cameras is now your USB webcam (and thus ignores one of the two internal ones)? Or does it add a 3rd camera to the device, such that you can cycle through all 3 cameras in the app when you tap the button to switch cameras? Or does it just not work at all, never recognizing the external camera?

If anybody has ever tried this (using a USB-C or micro-USB adapter to connect a generic webcam to their Android phone), please let me know how well that worked. I don't want to waste my money on this adapter if an Android phone will not recognize a webcam when it's plugged in.
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 10:39:32 am »
Gee. I doubt it.

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Offline soldar

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 08:55:57 am »
I am considering buying this adapter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGKYXVE/ which will let me connect any normal external PC USB device (not ones designed specifically for smartphones) to a smartphone with a USB-C port. My intent is to use my generic UVC (USB-video-class) USB webcam on my smartphone (does not require dedicated drivers, and on my Windows PC it works as soon as plugged in), but I don't know how Android handles webcams. I know it normally detects the two that are hardwired into the phone (the front and rear facing cameras). And most camera apps have a way of switching between these 2 cameras. However, what happens if a 3rd camera is present, such as one connected via the USB port? Does the camera automatically override one of the two built-in ones, so that when switching between the cameras in an app, one of the two cameras is now your USB webcam (and thus ignores one of the two internal ones)? Or does it add a 3rd camera to the device, such that you can cycle through all 3 cameras in the app when you tap the button to switch cameras? Or does it just not work at all, never recognizing the external camera?

If anybody has ever tried this (using a USB-C or micro-USB adapter to connect a generic webcam to their Android phone), please let me know how well that worked. I don't want to waste my money on this adapter if an Android phone will not recognize a webcam when it's plugged in.

That "adapter" is purely mechanical/electrical. It is like a plug adapter that lets you plug in a plug with flat pins into a socket with round pins. It does not change the voltage.

USB devices are either hosts or peripherals with a master/slave protocol. A phone is a peripheral that can be connected to a host. A camera is a peripheral that can be connected to a host. You cannot connect a peripheral to a peripheral or a host to a host.

That USB adapter is not going to make your phone into a host.
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Offline CJay

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 09:13:22 am »

That "adapter" is purely mechanical/electrical. It is like a plug adapter that lets you plug in a plug with flat pins into a socket with round pins. It does not change the voltage.

USB devices are either hosts or peripherals with a master/slave protocol. A phone is a peripheral that can be connected to a host. A camera is a peripheral that can be connected to a host. You cannot connect a peripheral to a peripheral or a host to a host.

That USB adapter is not going to make your phone into a host.


The phone is probably already an OTG host or 'better', it just needs the adapter, I know my phone (an earlier one) will support HID and memory devices as an OTG host but I've never plugged in a webcam though there is some discussion that suggests it will work if the camera is Linux compatible using the Linux USB webcam framework.

$8 seems rather expensive, they're just a pair of connectors and a bit of cable, if you were in the UK I'd stick one in the post for you.

 
 


Offline soldar

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 10:26:39 am »
The phone is probably already an OTG host or 'better', it just needs the adapter, I know my phone (an earlier one) will support HID and memory devices as an OTG host but I've never plugged in a webcam though there is some discussion that suggests it will work if the camera is Linux compatible using the Linux USB webcam framework.

Oh, OK then. in that case you just need the right app.
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Offline GeorgeOfTheJungle

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2019, 10:29:00 am »
1) For that you need an OTG cable: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=usb-c+otg+cable because by default the phone acts as a USB device, the OTG cable makes it be a USB host.
2) Not all phones support a camera, many do, but not all. You've got to google the specs of your phone, or just try it out.
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Offline soldar

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2019, 10:40:46 am »
I was not aware of this. Interesting.

Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go

USB On-The-Go (USB OTG or just OTG) is a specification first used in late 2001 that allows USB devices, such as tablets or smartphones, to act as a host, allowing other USB devices, such as USB flash drives, digital cameras, mice or keyboards, to be attached to them. Use of USB OTG allows those devices to switch back and forth between the roles of host and device. A mobile phone may read from removable media as the host device, but present itself as a USB Mass Storage Device when connected to a host computer.

USB OTG introduces the concept of a device performing both master and slave roles – whenever two USB devices are connected and one of them is a USB OTG device, they establish a communication link. The device controlling the link is called the master or host, while the other is called the slave or peripheral.

USB OTG defines two roles for devices: OTG A-device and OTG B-device, specifying which side supplies power to the link, and which initially is the host. The OTG A-device is a power supplier, and an OTG B-device is a power consumer. In the default link configuration, the A-device acts as a USB host with the B-device acting as a USB peripheral. The host and peripheral modes may be exchanged later by using Host Negotiation Protocol (HNP).

The initial role of each device is defined by which mini plug a user inserts into its receptacle.
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Offline CJay

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2019, 11:13:03 am »
I was not aware of this. Interesting.

Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go

Yeah, it's really useful but quite odd to control a smartphone with an external mouse and keyboard.
 

Offline GeorgeOfTheJungle

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2019, 11:31:43 am »
Yeah, it's really useful but quite odd to control a smartphone with an external mouse and keyboard.

That's not the idea. It's for printers, cameras, ethernet, and all sorts of gadget-ish devices.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2019, 11:40:37 am by GeorgeOfTheJungle »
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Offline CJay

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2019, 12:56:13 pm »
That may not be what you use it for, it's what I've used it for, when you're configuring 10 a day it makes life *REALLY* easy
 
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Offline soldar

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2019, 01:18:25 pm »
That may not be what you use it for, it's what I've used it for, when you're configuring 10 a day it makes life *REALLY* easy

Heck, it sounds like a great idea! I hate typing in the stupid touch screen. Half the time the touch doesn't register and the other half it registers something else than what I intended.

I have only begun using an Android phone but I might look into this in the future.

My concern though is that the USB connector looks flimsy and not something I want to be connecting and disconnecting a lot. Maybe this can be done over Bluetooth?
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Offline GeorgeOfTheJungle

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2019, 01:34:36 pm »
Yes the micro connector is flimsy, but type C isn't. Get one with type C.
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Offline Black Phoenix

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2019, 01:51:57 pm »
That may not be what you use it for, it's what I've used it for, when you're configuring 10 a day it makes life *REALLY* easy

Heck, it sounds like a great idea! I hate typing in the stupid touch screen. Half the time the touch doesn't register and the other half it registers something else than what I intended.

I have only begun using an Android phone but I might look into this in the future.

My concern though is that the USB connector looks flimsy and not something I want to be connecting and disconnecting a lot. Maybe this can be done over Bluetooth?

Yes it can.
 

Offline CJay

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2019, 02:04:55 pm »
That may not be what you use it for, it's what I've used it for, when you're configuring 10 a day it makes life *REALLY* easy

Heck, it sounds like a great idea! I hate typing in the stupid touch screen. Half the time the touch doesn't register and the other half it registers something else than what I intended.

I have only begun using an Android phone but I might look into this in the future.

My concern though is that the USB connector looks flimsy and not something I want to be connecting and disconnecting a lot. Maybe this can be done over Bluetooth?

Yes it can.

It can indeed, but it's faster and simpler to plug in the cable and we don't have to remember to delete the bluetooth profile on every phone, we just unplug the cable.
 

Offline soldar

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2019, 02:06:30 pm »
Yes it can.

Thanks. I will be looking into this.

I already have a wireless charging pad so I can avoid using the USB port for charging.
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Offline Ben321Topic starter

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Re: Can you use an external webcam with Android smartphones?
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2019, 10:15:44 am »
I ended up buying that adapter cable I posted a link to in this thread's opening post. It worked as I expected. I am able to use my webcam with my Android phone now. Also can use my mouse and keyboard with my phone, when I plug my the wireless mouse/keyboard receiver into this USB adapter. Definitely something I'd recommend for somebody with a smartphone that has as USB-C connector.
 


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