Spotlight on iPad: what it is and how it works

I really love iPad. For 10 years already. And I love FaceTime too. I generally use it every day, calling up with loved ones, regardless of the degree of remoteness of their place of residence. First, it’s free, unlike cellular. And, secondly, it makes the conversation more personal, perhaps, because there is an opportunity not only to hear, but also to see the interlocutor, maintaining eye contact with him and evaluating his facial expressions. And I like using FaceTime on the iPad much more than on the iPhone, due to the larger screen. But now at least one more has been added to this advantage.

Center Stage is a feature that keeps you in the picture at all times thanks to the ultra-wide-angle front camera.

I’m talking about the Center Stage function, which is called “In the spotlight” in Russian. Today it is available on four Apple tablets: iPad Pro 11, iPad Pro 12.9, iPad 9 and iPad mini 6. Its essence boils down to keeping you constantly in the frame when using video calling services. The Pills do this automatically, tracking your position and shifting the frame based on your movements.

It is important to understand that Center Stage moves the frame, not the focus. This gives the impression that you are being filmed by a camera on a sled, which someone is moving after you. Thus, even if you move to the side, the frame will follow you and will not remain blank. That is, now you can not sit or stand in one place, but constantly move, without worrying that the interlocutor will stop seeing you.

Why Spotlight?

Spotlight only works on three iPads

In fact, the Center Stage feature is a more valuable innovation than it might seem at first glance. I realized this from my own experience. I don’t know, maybe this is some kind of disorder, but I just can’t talk on the phone or FaceTime while sitting. I just get up and start walking. If this is a video call, then I put the tablet on a stand, and I myself move around the room and do some of my own things.

Without Center Stage – if, for example, I was frying eggs while the iPad was standing on the windowsill – I naturally disappeared from the frame. Therefore, my interlocutor simply talked to the refrigerator, which fell into the camera lens, but did not capture me at the same time. Thanks to Center Stage, this is no longer the case. The camera simply moves after me, and not only I see the person with whom I am talking, but he also me.

Center Stage is a comprehensive innovation. Complex in the sense that in order to implement it, Apple had to change both the software and hardware filling of its tablets. A key change to bring Spotlight to life is the front-facing camera with an ultra-wide viewing angle of up to 122 degrees. This is one of the highest rates on the market.

However, it would be strange and ugly to shoot all the time through, in fact, a fish at minimum salaries. Therefore, Apple added a special software toolkit to iPadOS that artificially narrows the lens coverage to the usual limits, but at the same time tracks the user’s position in the frame and constantly moves after him. Because of this, the effect of the camera moving along the sled is created.

How Spotlight Works

Spotlight requires a camera with a viewing angle of 122 degrees

However, sometimes it also happens that the front camera of the iPad supporting Center Stage includes a full ultra-wide mode. This happens when more than one object appears in the frame, which needs to be monitored. For example, if a second person appeared in front of the camera, whom the tablet recognized and mistaken for a participant in the conversation. In this case, if he moves away in the opposite direction, the camera will “drive away” and capture him too.

Since this innovation is of a hardware nature, Apple failed to do the same on older tablets – including the iPad Air 4. It just didn’t have enough front-facing camera coverage. And changing it to a new one in new batches of old “tablets” would be strange, and simply unpleasant, given that this would require reworking their hardware layout in order to fit a new module inside.

Center Stage itself is not solely tied to FaceTime. Apple opened it up to third-party developers, so the frame will follow you in other applications as well. There are not many of them yet: Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet and Filmic Pro. Interestingly, Center Stage support has been brought to Filmic Pro, although it’s not a video calling app, but a video editing tool.

Apple correctly decided not to restrict Center Stage to video calls. Obviously, this function will be used mainly for communication, but there may be scenarios in which the ability to activate tracking of an object in a frame recorded on the front camera may come in handy. Moreover, the front camera of the new iPad has become much better than it was.


Source: AppleInsider.ru — крупнейший сайт о iPhone, iPad, Mac в России by appleinsider.ru.

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