How Does Center Stage Work on the 5G iPad Pro?

Keep the action front and center in FaceTime and other video chat apps

What to Know

  • Center Stage keeps the camera focused on you in FaceTime.
  • Using machine learning, Center Stage follows you as you move around and zooms or crops as necessary to keep you front and center.
  • Center Stage is available on iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation).

This article explains Apple’s Center Stage technology, including how to use it with FaceTime and other video chat apps, and how to disable the feature if you don’t like it.

What Is Apple’s Center Stage?

Center Stage is a technology that works with the ultra-wide 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera first included with the 2021 iPad Pro to keep everyone (whether it's one person or a group) centered in the frame during video calls. The technology works by sending just the part of the image you or a group are actually in.

Center Stage leverages machine learning technology to recognize and focus on your face, and make adjustments on the fly to make sure you’re always in the center of the frame. If you get up and walk around during a FaceTime call, Center Stage is capable of recognizing you are moving and keeps the camera focused on you. It can also recognize when another person enters the camera’s field of view, and automatically adjust to keep both people in frame.

How to Use Center Stage

If you have a supported device, like the 3rd generation iPad Pro 11-inch, 5th generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch, or 5G iPad Pro, then you can use Center Stage. When it’s enabled, it will kick in automatically whenever you use FaceTime. You don’t have to do anything, as Center Stage works seamlessly in the background to keep you in the center of the frame.

While Center Stage is designed for totally hands-free use, without any need for user input to work, it can be turned on and off. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, then it may not be on, or your device might not support the feature.

How to Enable Center Stage on iPad Pro

Center Stage can be enabled in FaceTime settings, and it can also be turned on and off from within the FaceTime app during a call. Here’s how to enable Center Stage on your iPad Pro:

  1. In the Settings app, scroll down the left sidebar and tap FaceTime.

    FaceTime highlighted in the Settings app on an iPad Pro
  2. Tap the Center Stage toggle to turn it on.

    The Center Stage toggle highlighted in the Settings app on an iPad Pro

    If the Center Stage toggle is gray, the feature is off.

How to Enable Center Stage During a FaceTime Call

You can also turn Center Stage on while you’re in a FaceTime call. If you need to get up and walk around, and you want the camera to stay focused on you, then make sure to turn the feature on first.

Here’s how to enable Center Stage during a FaceTime call:

  1. Start a FaceTime call.

  2. During the call, swipe up from the bottom of the screen on iPadOS 14, or swipe down from the upper right corner in iPadOS 15 to open the Control Center.

  3. Tap Center Stage to turn the feature on in iPadOS 14, or tap Video Effects in iPadOS 15.

    Video Effects highlighted in a FaceTime call
  4. Tap Center Stage in iPadOS 15.

    Center Stage highlighted in FaceTime settings

How to Turn Off Center Stage on iPad Pro

Center Stage can be disabled through the Settings menu, and you can also toggle it off during a FaceTime call if you want to disable it temporarily.

Here’s how to turn off Center Stage:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap FaceTime.

  3. Tap the Center Stage toggle to turn it off.

    When the toggle is gray, the feature is off.

How to Disable Center Stage During a FaceTime Call

If you want Center Stage to stop following you around during a FaceTime call, you can toggle it off from inside the FaceTime app. This is also useful if you’re having a one on one conversation, as Center Stage will automatically zoom and crop to include anyone it sees even if they aren’t participating in the call.

Here’s how to disable Center Stage during a FaceTime call:

  1. Start a FaceTime call.

  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen in iPadOS 14 to open FaceTime call options, or down from the top right corner of the screen in iPadOS 15 to open Control Center.

  3. Tap Center Stage to turn it off in iPadOS 14, or tap Video Effects (Center Stage) in iPadOS 15.

    Video Effects (Center Stage) highlighted in Command Center during a FaceTime call
  4. Tap Center Stage to turn it off in iPadOS 15.

    Center Stage highlighted in a FaceTime call

Is Center Stage a FaceTime-Exclusive Feature?

FaceTime is Apple’s video chat app, so it was the first app to receive Center Stage integration. Apple also provides an API for others though, which means you can use Center Stage in any app where the app developers have chosen to include Center Stage functionality.

For example, Center Stage works with Zoom, Webex, and other video chat apps. It works just like FaceTime in these other apps, it’s enabled in the same way, and it has to be enabled individually for each app.

How to Enable Center Stage for Zoom, Webex, Google Meet, and Other Video Chat Apps

Center Stage works with a lot of apps other than FaceTime, but you have to enable it individually for each app. There is no global Center Stage setting, so you need to access the settings for each app and activate the toggle. The process works exactly the same for each, with the only difference being you need to select the app you want to use from the main iOS Settings menu.

Here’s how to enable Center Stage for Zoom, Webex, Google Meet, and other compatible video chat apps:

  1. Open Settings and tap the video chat app you want to use with Center Stage (i.e. Zoom).

    Zoom highlighted in the Settings app on an iPad Pro
  2. Tap the Center Stage toggle to enable it.

    Center Stage toggle highlighted in Zoom settings on iPad

    The toggle will be gray if Center Stage is disabled.

  3. Repeat this process for any additional apps you want to use with Center Stage.

  4. When you launch the app, i.e. Zoom, Center Stage will be in effect.

FAQ
  • Why doesn't Center Stage work on older iPads?

    The Center Stage feature relies on the iPad Pro's chipset and Ultra Wide front-facing camera. Since older devices are designed differently, they can't support Center Stage.

  • Does Apple's Camera app support iPad Center Stage?

    No. Some third-party camera apps, like Camo and Filmic Pro, support Center Stage. If you don't see the feature available on your iPad Pro, make sure you have the latest version of the app.

  • How do I make FaceTime calls on iPad Pro?

    In the FaceTime app, find the person you want to call and tap their name. Then, tap the Camera icon to start a video call. To end the call, tap the red button at the bottom of the screen.

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