Camera FrontBack review: Stay in the action with picture-in-picture camera app

Captures real-time video from the front and rear iPhone cameras at the same time, superimposing one on top of the other.

Credit: Yuliya Andrienko
camera frontback portrait trampoline J.R. Bookwalter

Always left out while shooting video of the kids? Camera FrontBack uses the front camera to keep you in the action.

Smartphone cameras are great for documenting life’s precious moments to replay them over and over again in the years to come. With a front-facing camera, it’s even possible to put yourself in the action, although video selfies come with inherent limitations. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to shoot high-quality video from the back camera while capturing your reaction from the front camera at the same time?

That’s exactly what Camera FrontBack is designed to do. This $1 app combines live video from the front and rear cameras at the same time in a single movie, allowing iPhone owners to put themselves into the action while simultaneously recording high-quality video from a camera on the back of the device.

The app superimposes video taken with the front camera on top of what’s being recorded with the Wide or Ultra Wide lens on the back. This rectangular picture-in-picture window can be moved anywhere on the screen with your finger, or changed to a circle instead with a double tap.

Camera FrontBack also works in reverse, putting your own mug front and center while subjects shot with the rear camera appear picture-in-picture instead. The PiP window can be reduced or enlarged with a pinch, anywhere from 1/16 (the default size) up to one-quarter of the screen.

Limits and bonus features

One thing missing from many third-party camera apps is the ability to use the iPhone volume buttons to start or stop recording. Sadly, Camera FrontBack also eschews this convenience, meaning that recording can only be performed by tapping the on-screen shutter button. There’s also no split-screen mode, which would come in handy for professional users.

The app gets other things right: There’s a manual toggle to light up the rear LED flash during darker scenes, as well as options to switch between Wide and Ultra Wide lenses on supported hardware. Curiously, Telephoto mode is not currently supported. Camera FrontBack requires fairly recent hardware, specifically iPhone XR or later, including all iPhone 11 models.

camera frontback landscape ultra wide J.R. Bookwalter

Camera FrontBack supports the Ultra Wide lens on newer iPhone models for a more expansive view of what’s happening.

Tucked away in the settings are toggle switches to retain the current size and placement of the PiP window next time you launch the app, as well as enable pinch-to-zoom for the rear camera, a feature still in beta but which worked well in our tests. Last but not least, you can change the app icon to Classic or Neon.

Bottom line

A neat way to keep yourself in the action while shooting video with an iPhone, all in real time.

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J.R. Bookwalter

Macworld.com
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