The best thing that can happen to video conferencing? iPad’s central stage.

The highlight of the just-announced budget iPads and iPad minis is the Center Stage add-on, which allows the front camera to track someone in a video call. That’s great – FaceTime and Zoom calls are much easier. This is perhaps the best new feature Apple has devised in recent years.

If you have a new iPad and don’t use this video conferencing feature, skip it. We hope it will be built into the iPhone in 2022.

Center Stage is your magical camera operator

With the Center Stage, the front camera on all of Apple’s newer tablets — including the iPad Pro 2021 — can look like it’s moving, even when it’s not. The effect uses a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera to keep the user focused during video calls as they move from side to side and up and down.

What happens is that the camera has a field of view of 122 degrees, but only shows part of it – a segment that includes your face. You can move around a fairly wide area and you will be centered. And if you and your friend share an iPad to make a FaceTime / Zoom call to someone else, the camera will keep you both in the frame.

Center Stage is like an invisible camera operator moving your tablet. Works with the screen in portrait or landscape mode. It will increase and decrease.

This feature debuted in the iPad Pro in 2021, and I’ve been using it since spring. I love it. When calling from earlier devices, I had to carefully edit the iPad to keep the camera centered on my face. Not anymore. As long as the camera is mostly pointed at me, I’m ready for a video call. They can change positions during a call and the virtual recorder will make up for it.

I tested it in FaceTime, Zoom and Google Duo and it works perfectly in all of them. In addition, I’m sure there are more apps that support it.

It’s so good that if you’re using an older iPad to make a lot of video calls, then Center Stage could justify an upgrade.

It would be even better with Apple’s attention correction

While this feature makes iPad video chat very good, it can still be a little better. You see, iPhones have an amazing feature that allows user eyes to see the person they are talking to. It sounds like it should be easy, but when you look at another person’s face in a FaceTime call, your eyes are directed away from your iPhone’s camera. And when you’re not looking at the camera, you seem to be looking away from the person you’re talking to.

Attention correction uses augmented reality to change the look of your eyes by focusing on the other person in the call, even if you are not looking at the camera.

It’s easy, it’s wonderful, it’s not available for iPad. And I don’t see why not. Especially because the combination of Attention Correction and Central Stage would make video conferencing almost ideal.

When video conferencing on an iPad, you always seem to be watching from one side.
Photo: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

Center Stage would really improve the iPhone 14

And there’s no reason that only the iPad has the ideal video conferencing experience. iPhone already has attention correction so you need to add Center Stage.

This would be a great addition to the iPhone 14. No more careful phone scheduling to make sure it’s aimed at you. That would just happen. Even if you carry the phone while talking, the camera will continue to work to keep your face centered. Just like it already keeps your eyes focused.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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