Saturday, April 11, 2020

Switch cameras while recording video on Android

Android, as of this post in April 2020, does not natively support flipping camera from back to front while recording a video. Some chat apps can do it though - Instagram and Snapchat for instance certainly WhatsApp and Skype during video calls. So, how do they do it?

Apparently they do it by screen grabbing a video preview they create in memory - the preview is much like what you see on your screen (minus the overlaid camera controls) when previewing and switching cams on your Android's native camera app. So they take that preview and either record it locally or transmit it to wherever the video is going online, e.g. an Instagram post or the person you are video chatting with.

But what if you want to do just that, i.e. create your own video while switching between cams on both sides of your phone, without being confined by the intricacies and limiting use cases of each of the aforementioned apps?

Well, all you have to do is kinda emulate what these apps do. A way to easily do that is:

  1. Get a good screen recorder Android app (it records a video of your phone screen being used). There's plenty of those on Play Store.
  2. Get an alternative Android cam app that allows all camera controls to be hidden. One good such app is "Open Camera" which is also available on the Play Store. Just use it's "Immersive Mode" to have the controls disappear after a couple of seconds of not using them.
Have fun!

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