The Apple Watch is an amazing device loaded with advanced technology, and while Apple didn’t give it a camera of its own, it can be used to trigger the camera on an iPhone. In fact, there are quite a few camera controls that are accessible on the Apple Watch, making it a handy smartphone photography tool.
Apple explored the idea of adding a camera to its wrist-mounted wearable as far back as 2016, one year after the first Apple Watch launched. A patent was granted in 2019 for a camera placed within the tail of an Apple Watch band. While it was an intriguing concept, an Apple Watch with a camera never came to market. For those who want the feature though, a third-party manufacturer sells an Apple Watch band with two integrated cameras.
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While the Apple Watch can’t take pictures directly since it has no camera, Apple made a really helpful app that can show a preview from the paired iPhone’s camera on the watch screen. It’s also possible to snap a photo or start recording a video on the iPhone with just a tap on the Apple Watch. This is called the Camera Remote app and it’s a great solution for using an iPhone when it’s locked into a selfie stick, making it possible to simulate low-flying drone videos. It’s also useful for group selfies with the iPhone carefully propped up or mounted, allowing a preview of the shot and operation of the shutter from several feet away so the photographer can be in the scene as well.
Apple Watch Camera Controls
The Apple Watch’s Camera Remote app defaults to photo mode and uses the paired iPhone’s main rear camera. Each tap of the white shutter button on the Apple Watch takes a picture on the iPhone. By pressing and holding the shutter button, a video can be recorded. Tapping the More button that looks like three periods in a row reveals additional options to use a timer, switch to the front-facing camera, and set flash, Live Photo, and HDR options.
It’s also possible to change the camera mode to Portrait or use any of the video modes, such as Cinematic, Slow-Motion, and Time-Lapse. If a video mode is selected on the iPhone, the Apple Watch shutter button will turn red to remind the user that it will start a recording when it is tapped. The only iPhone camera mode that isn’t supported is Panorama, which must be started with the iPhone. Apart from this, switching to the ultra-wide or telephoto camera will also need to be done on the iPhone. Nearly every other option and camera mode is supported on the Apple Watch, making it easy to see a preview on the wrist and control the iPhone camera remotely.