Apple’s new iPad Pro does more than offer speed boosts.
Apple’s new iPad Pro models have a long list of new features and updates. From using the same speedy M1 processor as the Mac line, to including Thunderbolt/USB 4 support, and a new display type that’s a sight to behold — there’s a lot to like about the new tablets. However, there’s another feature that’s sure to have a big impact on how you use the iPad Pro on a daily basis.
The first time you place a FaceTime call on the 2021 iPad Pro, you’ll immediately notice the front-facing camera follows you as you move around in order to keep you centered in the shot. Center Stage even allows you to get up and walk around the room and it’ll still follow you. If a loved one walks into the room and joins the call, your iPad Pro camera will zoom out so both of you are in the frame and you don’t have to squeeze together.
‘s Apple Report newsletter delivers news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs and software.
When I first started using the new iPad Pro, I was a little confused about when Center Stage would work, and how to find its settings. Below I’ll break down everything you need to know, but before that, here’s a fun clip from Scott Stein showing how Center Stage works:
Btw, Center Stage example, recorded on Filmic Pro on one iPad Pro: (note I’m looking at iPad. Also stick around for the other iPad!) (longer version of clip that’s in the video review) pic.twitter.com/0atzFUrFuW
— Scott Stein (@jetscott)
May 19, 2021
Preview how Center Stage works with FaceTime
The easiest way to test out Center Stage is to open the FaceTime app. You don’t have to make a call; the feature starts working the moment you open the app and can see the preview of what the front-facing camera sees.
Move around in your chair to see how it follows you. Get up and walk around to find the limit of where it stops following you — the iPad Pro doesn’t come on wheels, after all. Have people walk into the shot and join you, then have them leave the shot.
It’s fun, if not downright interesting, to watch how quick the iPad Pro adjusts to something as little as shifting your weight in your seat.
For fun, you can place a FaceTime call and see how long it takes for the person on the other end to notice the camera moving around.
But what about Center Stage in other iPad apps?
There’s some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the bad news: Center Stage won’t work in Apple’s Camera app. That means you can’t use it to record videos that keep you in the shot. It’s something Apple should consider adding — a small toggle in the Camera app to turn Center Stage on and off would suffice.
Alright, now for the good news. Center Stage should work without any work on a developers part in all video calling apps. I say should because there are always outliers that, for some reason or another, it won’t work with.
I’ve personally tested and confirmed that Center Stage works in the WebEx, Zoom and Google Meet apps. I didn’t have to do anything to turn it on — I simply joined the calls as I normally do, and the camera immediately started following me around.
The setting to turn off Center Stage isn’t where you’d think it is.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
Don’t like iPad Pro’s Center Stage? You can turn it off
Whether you find Center Stage distracting or just don’t like using it, you do have the option to turn it off. But you’ll have to do it on an app-by-app basis. There isn’t a single toggle or switch you can go to in the Camera settings and disable it.
Instead, open the Settings app and then scroll down until you get to the list of apps. Tap the app you want to stop using Center Stage in, and there you should find a Center Stage option. Slide the switch to the Off position.
For example, for Zoom you’d go to Settings > Zoom > Center Stage. Or for FaceTime you’d go to Settings > FaceTime > Center Stage. Again, you’ll need to do this for every app that uses the front-facing camera.
The new iPad Pro comes with iPadOS 14.5, of which we’ve covered plenty of features that add to its utility. There are even hidden features that help you take it to the next level. We’re certainly looking forward to what Apple has in store for it with iPadOS 15, but we won’t know more about it until WWDC kicks off June 7.