4 reasons macOS Sonoma is the best OS for video calls

Key Takeaways

  • Continuity Camera on macOS Sonoma allows you to use your iPhone as a high-quality webcam, instantly improving video call quality without spending extra money on an expensive webcam.
  • Center Stage automatically keeps you in frame during video calls by using an ultrawide camera, replicating advanced camera tracking without the need for costly camera technology.
  • Presenter Overlay on macOS Sonoma allows you to share your screen during video calls while digitally placing your video feed on top of the shared content, increasing immersion and making it easier for others to follow along.

Video conferencing has been around for a while, but modern technology and the pandemic have made video calling downright ubiquitous. There are a lot of great apps you can use to connect with people over video these days, like FaceTime, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. However, an underrated part of video conferencing is your operating system. There are specific video calling features and effects exclusive to certain platforms that can make or break your conversation, and macOS Sonoma has some of the best. From the ability to use your iPhone as a webcam to digital lighting effects, these are four ways macOS Sonoma excels at video calling.

1 Continuity Camera

Belkin's Camera Mount attaching an iPhone to a MacBook Air.

Without a dedicated and relatively expensive webcam, you won’t get great video call quality from your computer. Even the best laptops can have unimpressive webcams that result in grainy visuals that can make you look unprofessional. Apple’s solution to this problem is Continuity Camera, which uses the high-quality rear camera system on your iPhone to serve as your Mac’s video input. With a Continuity Camera mount, you can place your iPhone right atop your MacBook and use it to get excellent video quality without spending a lot. Though the Continuity Camera feature itself isn’t new to macOS Sonoma, there are advanced lighting and effects controls in the update that we’ll get to in a bit. Regardless of when it was introduced, Continuity Camera is an excellent way to instantly improve your video quality before hopping into a call.

2 Center Stage

The video effects menu in macOS Sonoma.

You won’t notice Center Stage as much as others, but it makes a big difference in conducting smoother video calls if you use a Studio Display or Continuity Camera. Essentially, Center Stage uses an ultrawide camera to always keep you in frame by cropping into a smaller portion of the shot. If you move to the left or right, the camera will move with you. It’s a neat way that macOS Sonoma replicates more advanced camera tracking without forcing users to pay for expensive camera tech.

3 Presenter Overlay

Presenter Overlay on macOS Sonoma with a video call.

It’s common practice to share your screen during video calls to present information to others. When you do this on any operating system, the presenter’s video feed is relegated to the gallery with all the other participants. This isn’t effective since it can be hard to follow what’s being presented while looking at the presenter at the top or sides of the screen. Presenter Overlay on macOS Sonoma solves this problem. Sharing your screen this way allows you to digitally place your video feed on your screen’s contents, increasing immersion and decreasing the number of windows others in the call have to pay attention to.

The large view of Presenter Overlay.

You can use Presenter Overlay with small or large overlays. The small overlay places your video feed in a small circular shape that can be moved around the screen, while the large one places your screen’s content behind your video, creating a virtual experience similar to a presenter standing in front of a whiteboard. Combined with Center Stage, macOS Sonoma can shift your head to one side of the screen to make more room for your screen sharing. This is all done virtually, with no manual input required besides a few clicks in the menu bar.

4 Lighting and reaction effects

Video reactions on macOS Sonoma.

There are a lot of smaller lighting and reaction effects all rolled into macOS Sonoma, but combined, they make up a more full and fun experience. With Studio Light, macOS Sonoma can digitally add a ring light effect to your video feed that illuminates your face. There’s also a portrait mode feature that gives you the same effect you’d find on a great smartphone camera. When it’s time to add a bit of fun, you can trigger video reaction effects with hand gestures. In the image above, I used the rock and roll hands to add some extra lighting.

I always use a Mac for video conferencing

I’ve been switching back and forth between Windows 11 and macOS Sonoma lately, but there are some things that work better on each platform. When it comes to video conferencing, there’s no better operating system than macOS Sonoma. Between the high-quality Continuity Camera feature and the Presenter Overlay tool, the OS-level advantages are just too great. I always use a Mac for video calling.