Apple Gave Zoom Access to Special API to Use iPad Camera

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Zoom, a well-known platform used by millions during the global health crisis, has been granted access to a special iPadOS API that allows the app to use the iPad camera while in Split View multitasking mode.

This case of preferential treatment was first brought to light by app developer Jeremy Provost, who explained in a blog post that Zoom uses a special API that allows the app to continue using and accessing the iPad camera while in Split View mode.

Zoom can do so because of an “entitlement,” which grants developers the ability to execute a specific capability with an API. As Provost points out, Apple publicly documents the ability for developers to apply for a variety of entitlements, including those related to CarPlay, HomeKit, and others.

However, Apple does not offer the unique API that Zoom has been given to other developers, nor does it acknowledge its existence. A zoom staff member confirmed earlier in February on the Zoom Developer Forum that Zoom has access to the “com.apple.developer.avfoundation.multitasking-camera-access,” or iPad Camera Multitasking entitlement.

This capability is helpful for obvious reasons when users may want to refer to and use a separate app during a video conferencing call. Without this API, if a user switches to Split view mode in a video conferencing app, the video call will go dark because the app cannot access the iPad camera while multitasking.

The new revelation comes at a difficult time for the Cupertino-based tech behemoth. The company is currently embroiled in a massive legal battle with game developer Epic Games, which accuses exercising unfair and anti-competitive control over the App Store and app distribution on iOS devices.

The trial of the two titans began on May 3, and evidence, including email correspondence between Apple executives and employees, has revealed that Apple previously granted sure developers, such as Hulu, access APIs that were not available to other developers. Apple maintains that it treats all developers equally and provides a “level playing field” for all. We’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update this post if we receive a response.

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