This overlooked iPadOS 17 feature turned a GameBoy Camera into a FaceTime wonder

FaceTime on iPad
(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple announced iPadOS 17 at WWDC in June there was a lot to take in. So it's understandable that some features didn't get the attention they might have deserved. One of those features just gave us a wonderful mix of the old and the new and we're absolutely here for it.

The feature in question is support for UVC (USB Video Class) devices, and it already sounded pretty interesting. The short version is that the feature will allow iPads to recognize webcams for use in things like FaceTime which could be cool if you want to use something other than the built-in camera.

Now, one person has taken that UVC support and connected an external camera that few of us would ever have considered and the result is amazing. That camera? The GameBoy Camera, a product that was first released in 1998.

From 1998 to 2013

The story goes that MacStories' Federico Viticci was putting iPadOS 17 through its paces, testing UVC support in particular. He connected a few other accessories which worked fine — UVC also allows support for video capture cards and more — but it was when the GameBoy Camera became involved that things really got interesting.

"I have an Analogue Pocket, which is an outstanding modern take on the Game Boy that can play original Game Boy cartridges," Viticci explains. "I also have the Analogue Pocket dock, which lets me play Game Boy games on a big screen by taking advantage of the Pocket’s excellent upscaling mode for Game Boy graphics." The scene was set.

The next question was obvious. "If I could use the Game Boy Camera on a Pocket and send the video feed from the console to the iPad Pro, would I then be able to do a FaceTime call with someone while looking like a character straight out of a Game Boy game?" The answer, it seems, was that he could.

The result was a FaceTime call with Viticci appearing in that familiar GameBoy -display green.

You can of course read the ins and outs of how this all went down over on MacStories, and it's well worth checking out. If only to see what FaceTime would have looked like if it launched in 1998.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.