iPad Air 5 could be the next device from Apple to get its Center Stage camera

Apple’s iPad Air 5 should feature the company’s Center Stage front-camera technology that uses machine learning to keep you and anyone else with you right in the frame.

Apple's marketing image showing the iOS 15 Control Center overlay on iPad Pro with the Center Stage camera feature selected in the Video Effects menu, and a blurred FaceTime video call in the background
Image credit: Apple
  • The next iPad Air is rumored to feature Apple’s wide-angle Center Stage front camera
  • Other rumored iPad Air 5 features include 5G networking, Apple’s A15 chip and more
  • iPad Air 5 should drop this spring around the same time as iPhone SE 3

iPad Air 5: Center Stage camera, 5G and more

Japanese blog Mac Otakara claims in a new report, citing reliable sources in China, that Apple’s upcoming fifth-generation iPad Air will feature hardware specifications similar to those for the company’s sixth-generation iPad mini. Those would reportedly include enhancements like 5G cellular connectivity, a A15 Bionic chip and a twelve-megapixel front camera with a wide field of view and Center Stage support. If true, that would mark the fourth time Apple has added Center Stage to an iPad refresh.

Read: 5 ways to use your Apple Pencil in the Books app on iPad

The tablet’s design should remain unchanged from its predecessor, the fourth-generation iPad Air, and that apparently includes a single-lens camera on the rear, a Touch ID power button, a USB-C port, a 10.9-inch display with slim bezels and more.

The report says that iPad Air 5 will launch alongside the third-generation iPhone SE this spring. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg thinks that Apple will hold a virtual product event in March or April that will serve as a launchpad for those and other new products.

What’s Apple’s Center Stage camera good for?

Center Stage requires a front camera with a very wide field of view. It uses machine learning running on Apple’s Neural engine to recognize people in the shot, adjusting the camera to keep everyone centered in the frame. Real-time video adjustments include seamless zooming and cropping, resulting in more engaging video calls.

Here’s Center Stage description from Apple’s press release announcing M1 iPad Pros:

As users move around, Center Stage automatically pans to keep them in the shot. When others join in, the camera detects them too, and smoothly zooms out to fit everyone into the view and make sure they are part of the conversation. So whether whiteboarding with coworkers or attending a virtual family gathering, the experience of connecting is now more engaging than ever.

Which Apple devices have a Center Stage camera?

The following Apple devices are equipped with a wide-angle Center Stage front camera:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation, 2021)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation, 2021)
  • iPad (9th generation, 2021)
  • iPad mini (6th generation, 2021)

Center Stage is not available on any iPhone model as of yet.

How to use Center Stage camera on your iPad

If your Apple tablet sports a wide-angle front camera that supports the Center Stage feature, it will be automatically used with FaceTime and other compatible apps.

You can manually toggle Center Stage on or off during a video call by choosing the Center Stage option from the Video Effects menu in Control Center.

  1. Open the Control Center overlay during a video call in FaceTime or a compatible app
  2. In Control Center, touch the “Video Effects” button
  3. Hit the “Center Stage” toggle to turn the feature on or off

The toggle is highlighted when Center Stage has been turned on.

Apple's marketing image showing the iOS 15 Control Center overlay on iPad Pro with the Center Stage camera feature turned on, and a blurred FaceTime video call in the background
Image credit: Apple

Alternatively, you can touch the video thumbnail of yourself during a FaceTime call, then hit the Center Stage button to toggle the feature on or off, as noted by a support document on the Apple website.