The most important upgrade in Apple's new iMac may be its sharper camera, which has finally gotten a big update
- Apple just announced a new 27-inch iMac that comes with improved processors, more storage, and more memory among other improvements.
- But it was the iMac's improved 1080p camera that stood out the most to me, after having spent months on grainy Zoom calls.
- The camera has a higher resolution than most laptops and other Apple computers, which typically offer 720p cameras. It also has a backside illumination sensor for taking in more light.
- Hopefully it's a sign that better cameras are coming to Apple's future laptops, too.
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If there's one thing you've probably learned over the past six months, it's that your laptop's webcam isn't very good. In fact, some might go as far as calling it terrible, especially compared to the cameras in your smartphone.
It's understandable to some degree. Your laptop's camera probably rarely saw any usage until March, when many companies around the world shifted to remote work arrangements because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The webcam sitting atop your computer's screen suddenly became very important, facilitating everything from office meetings to virtual happy hours and family get togethers.
So after months of sitting through grainy calls on Zoom and Google Meet, I couldn't help but get excited about a different feature: the iMac's upgraded camera.
Apple's new 27-inch iMac — which launched on August 4 — comes with the option for 10-core Intel processors, double the memory capacity, faster SSDs with four times as much storage, and a new option for nano-texture glass.
These are all welcome improvements that anyone working from home will appreciate, but the 27-inch iMac also now comes with a 1080p camera, an upgrade from the 720p resolution camera commonly found on most computers. It's one of the only Mac computers Apple sells that comes with a 1080p camera — the other being the iMac Pro.
It's not just the resolution that's changed. The new iMac's camera has a backside illumination sensor that should offer better quality in dimly-lit settings since it can take in more light. Because the iMac has Apple's T2 chip, the camera is also capable of applying tone-mapping, face detection, and auto exposure. Those features come with any Mac that has Apple's T2 chip, but combining them with a higher resolution camera and the backside illumination sensor should result in a better overall camera system.
Take a look at how a photo captured on the new iMac looks compared to an image taken on Apple's newest 13-inch MacBook Pro.
2020 MacBook Pro
The new iMac also comes with studio-quality microphones and an improved speaker system, upgrades that debuted in the 16-inch MacBook Pro last year and are also likely to help with Zoom meetings and virtual get togethers.
The camera upgrade has been a long time coming for Apple's Mac lineup, and hopefully it's an indication that its laptop webcams will get similar attention in the near future.
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