Apple Rejects AstroPad Update That Turned an iPad's Camera into a Software Button

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Astro HQ, the makers of popular iPad drawing app AstroPad Studio, yesterday announced that their plans for a "Camera Button" feature for the app have been scuppered by Apple.

The developers' clever hack that turns an iPad's front-facing camera into a functional software button was supposed to be coming in the next AstroPad Studio update, but Apple has rejected it on the grounds that the idea flouts App Store review guidelines.

The announcement came in a Medium.com post by Astro HQ titled "RIP Camera Button", which revealed that Apple had turned down the innovative iPad interaction because it broke the company's rules for iOS software.
We planned to introduce the Camera Button in an update to Astropad Studio going out today. However, we are disappointed to report that the Camera Button was rejected by Apple's App Store review under Section 2.5.9:

Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected.

Apple is known for its strict adherence to App Store rules, so the rejection shouldn't really come as much of a surprise. But the news will also likely disappoint backers of AstroPad's forthcoming Luna display adapter, which turns an iPad into a wireless extended Mac desktop. The developers had hoped to include the Camera Button feature in the Luna software, but they've been forced to drop it from that, too.

Despite the setback, Astro HQ said their "urge to innovate" lives on, and that they remained "committed to pushing the boundaries of software and hardware engineering so that we can create the best productivity tools possible".

Article Link: Apple Rejects AstroPad Update That Turned an iPad's Camera into a Software Button
 
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abouhashem

macrumors newbie
Jun 6, 2017
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When I heard about this feature I was waiting for this day to see if it will be rejected by Apple or not. and I was sure that Apple will never allow this hack which is dangerous on privacy. now I trust Apple more than before.
 

JetLaw

macrumors regular
Jan 21, 2009
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Perhaps common sense explains the rejection fully enough without the need to point to a specific rule. That said, the section of the guidelines that Apple cites to as its basis for the rejection is tenuous at best. The camera is not a “native switch, button or interface element.” It seems pretty clear to me that this is a situation that Apple didn’t conceive of when it drafted its guidelines. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that it should be allowed. I’m simply fascinated by the ongoing difficulty that Apple and developers face when it comes to drafting and interpreting the App Store guidelines.
 
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vjpulp

macrumors member
Dec 17, 2007
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What else they expected? its dangerous for privacy , i am sure they had to keep camera on all the time to make this feature work
Maybe the camera IS on all the time – is there a way of knowing for sure? Astropad are the first ones to publicly admit that they hacked the cam, but who knows if other apps do that all the time without us knowing...
 

haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
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Maybe the camera IS on all the time – is there a way of knowing for sure? Astropad are the first ones to publicly admit that they hacked the cam, but who knows if other apps do that all the time without us knowing...
I guess many less than mainstream do that without our knowledge. Periodic review of what apps we have granted permissions for the camera is especially important.
 

MarkB786

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Sep 20, 2016
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I get it, but this sort of Apple control is what drove me to the Note 8. If I want an app that does this, why not? It is MY $ 1k phone and I want to create my own experience.
 

Jeremy1026

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Nov 3, 2007
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What else they expected? its dangerous for privacy , i am sure they had to keep camera on all the time to make this feature work
In their blog post announcing the “camera button” they explain that they distort the video to the point of it being little more than a light sensor.
 
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nwcs

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Sep 21, 2009
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They knew this would be rejected. We went through this with Camera+ years ago with using the volume buttons for shutter until Apple sanctioned it later. The only way this would work is being granted access to the camera and keeping it on all the time while the app is in use. I wouldn’t trust any app to do that without showing me what’s being captured somewhere.
 

cbaca51

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Sep 11, 2016
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I'm not understanding what this feature does?

Just an always on camera? I don't get it
 

PhillyGuy72

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Still love the AstroPad app, the first "pricy" app I ever purchased in the store (about $24 back in May 2015 for my iPad Pro) I use it for VERY precise functionality on my iMac and Illustrator with Apple Pencil. The camera trick..well maybe it was cool idea at first for those who don't use the front camera like myself. As long as Apple doesn't ban them making my app outdated and useless in the next 6-12 months. I guess lesson leaned for devs. Use app functions on the screen...but do not dare touch any function "hack" outside the screen area.

**Actually I take that back. I've used Snapchat briefly but removed that silliness (not for me), you could hit the volume button to record video snaps. So I guess that was acceptable.
 

SoN1NjA

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Feb 3, 2016
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I see 3 main reasons why Apple rejected using the camera as an input method for this app
  • Privacy, most users don't want their camera active all the time
  • Battery, the camera being active all the time would consume too much battery life
  • Ease of use, if someone holds the bezel of their device that shouldn't be an interaction with the app
 

ThisIsNotMe

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Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected.

So that’s why they let Square in the App Store all of these years. Got it.
 

guzhogi

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Aug 31, 2003
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Wherever my feet take me…
Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected.

So that’s why they let Square in the App Store all of these years. Got it.
Does Apple get a bit of each transaction? If so, that could be why.
 

sracer

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Apr 9, 2010
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I see 3 main reasons why Apple rejected using the camera as an input method for this app
  • Privacy, most users don't want their camera active all the time
  • Battery, the camera being active all the time would consume too much battery life
  • Ease of use, if someone holds the bezel of their device that shouldn't be an interaction with the app
Those don't appear to be valid reasons in this situation.
Privacy? People must deliberately install this application, and the camera is only active when the app is active.
Battery? Not any different than any other app that uses the camera.
Ease of use? Again, this feature is only active while using AstroPad and Luna Display.

"Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected."
This is supposedly the clause that Apple is using to reject the app. By the letter of what is written, this use of the camera DOES NOT violate that clause.

To the best of my knowledge, Apple doesn't reject motion-detected recording apps...which essentially does the same thing as this feature in AstroPad... take action based on sensing movement in the camera lens.

I suspect that Apple rejected it because it was an innovative use of the front-facing camera and they want time to assess the implications of such use. They're using that clause to reject it now because that's the closest thing they have as a reason.
 
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