Center Stage settings may change per application. Here’s where it is in Zoom right now.

Scott Stein / CNET

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One well-known thing about iPads: They’re used for zooms and video chats all the time, but their front cameras aren’t ideally placed. Apples newest iPad Mini and Entry-level iPad are able to alleviate the annoyance somewhat: Center Stage is a digital zoom tool built into iPad’s latest wide-angle cameras to automatically keep your face (and that of your family) in the frame.

The technology debuted this spring High-end iPad Pro, but the feature has spread faster than expected on the new iPad Mini, and even the entry-level ninth-generation iPad. I’ve used it on every iPad that has it – here’s how it works, how you should set expectations … and how to turn it off. Because Center Stage settings seem a bit hidden.

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Just like other auto zoom cameras like Facebook portal, Center Stage follows a person’s face as they speak. It works by starting with a wide-angle (122-degree) video camera capture and then digitally zooming in as needed. You don’t have to do anything once it’s configured. You can get up and walk around, and Center Stage follows you.

On the iPad Pro with M1 this worked really well. It also worked the same on the iPad and the 9th generation iPad Mini. I found it quickly and smoothly rotated and zoomed in on my face as needed. However, it was sometimes a little strange or shocking for the video chat participants.

How to turn it off

Center Stage is enabled by default on iPads that have it, and first use can seem off-putting. But you can turn it off; it’s just that the frame seems a bit hidden. This has also changed in iPadOS 15 since the feature debuted on the iPad Pro in iPadOS 14.


In FaceTime and other apps, Center Stage settings hide in Control Center when the app is open. Tap this Video Effects button.

Scott Stein / CNET

In FaceTime and many other apps, you’ll need to swipe down into Control Center (the control panel in the top corner of the screen), where there’s a new Video Effects button. Tap on it and a Center Stage toggle appears (there is also a way to turn Portrait mode on and off for FaceTime).

On Zoom, the Center Stage toggle is on the screen itself; on the left side, when in a Zoom.

Disabling Center Stage simply returns the camera to a still view of your face.

It works with Zoom and other apps – even video recording, in some cases

Zoom works with Center Stage: You can turn support on and off in the settings of the Zoom iPad app. I have found it to work on most major video conferencing apps. It worked on a few camera apps too – Filmic Pro works with it, so you can record a selfie video and have it follow you everywhere. Oddly, Apple’s iPadOS doesn’t natively support it in the camera app for recording videos – at least not so far.

It will even follow a 2D face

I tried Center Stage with a cropped photo of myself and a photo of myself on an iPad, and both followed. Just for the record: don’t keep other shapes that look like faces near you when chatting. He’ll also try to follow someone else into the room or pull back to mentor you both.

It will not solve the iPad eye contact issue

In landscape mode, the cameras of the iPads are always placed on the side. This is how most people use iPads for video chatting, as most keyboards and mounts also work in landscape mode. That means you sometimes look sideways in Zoom meetings (or at least it happens to me). Center Stage doesn’t fix that – it just gives you better supervision. I found that some of my chats always made me look a bit offscreen, but more zoomed in.

Keep an eye out for bugs

On my first review unit iPads, I found that Center Stage occasionally caused call stuttering or the feature started to turn on and off. It’s hard to say if it’s a bug that can affect others, or if it’s something Apple will fix. If something like this happens, I have found that force-closing the app and disabling Center Stage helps. Also, restarting the iPad.

Center Stage, along with the higher-quality 12-megapixel camera that comes with this feature, is always a welcome upgrade to the iPad’s front-facing camera setup: I’d like Macs and iPhones to have it. also have.

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