We knew that Apple Watch could display what the iPhone sees and that we could use it to trigger the iPhone camera, but we hadn’t played with that combo until last weekend, when we set up the pair to see how they would perform as a remote-controlled BirdCam. We were not disappointed!
Our basic iPhone BirdCam rig (assembled with stuff on hand):
- Tripod-mountable clamp for the iPhone (RetiCAM)
- A standard camera/videocam tripod (Vanguard ABEO 243CV)
After playing with the pair, we discovered that the integration, to our amazement, was a lot more extensive than we first thought.
Here are the features we came across:
- When the Camera app is launched on Apple Watch, it will wake the iPhone, pair with it, and launch the Camera app on the iPhone.
There is a little bit of lag time if the iPhone is in rest mode, but this feature enables the camera to conserve a lot of power, as most of the time nothing is happening. When we hear a bird at the feeder, we tap Apple Watch to see what’s up. If it’s something we want to capture, we tap Apple Watch button to trip the shutter. How cool is that?
- Live streaming from the iPhone camera to Apple Watch via Bluetooth from up to 50′ away.
Yes the image is small, but the super high resolution of Apple Watch does mitigate somewhat the size issue. It is sufficient to see what is going on, but not enough to make any critical decisions such as focus or depth of field.
- Tap a point on the image on Apple Watch to set the autofocus point on the Camera.
The ability to do this delighted us! Tap on the subject and trust the Camera to do the right thing…because it’s not like there is any other choice.
- Touch the big round button on Apple Watch to trigger the camera.
Easy peasy. There is a 3-second delay button for “selfie-takers” so one can look from tapping Apple Watch up to the iPhone’s camera (not useful for a BirdCam, but others might want to know).
It was late in the afternoon when we heard chirping sounds at the feeder. We checked Apple Watch to who it was: the cardinals had stopped by for dinner. It did not take long for the setup to pay dividends.
Below are some of the images we were able to capture with the iPhone/Apple Watch combo while “hidden away” in another room:
- Male cardinal in the feeder (resized)
- Female cardinal (cropped, full resolution)
- Male cardinal (cropped, full resolution)
What we hope to see in a future Camera app update:
- Ability to control the video capabilities (regular, slo-mo, etc) of the iPhone camera
- Ability to have the iPhone detect motion and let us know via Apple Watch