Apple Gave Zoom Access to Special API to Use iPad Camera During Split View Multitasking

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

zoom app icon
This case of special treatment was first brought to attention by app developer Jeremy Provost, who, in a blog post, explains that Zoom uses a special API that allows the app to continue using and accessing the ‌iPad‌ camera while the app is being used in Split View mode.

Zoom can do this thanks to an "entitlement," which grants developers the ability to execute a particular capability with an API. As Provost notes, Apple publicly documents the ability for developers to apply for several different entitlements, such as ones related to CarPlay, HomeKit, and more. However, the special API that Zoom has been given is not offered to other developers by Apple, nor is its existence acknowledged by the company itself.

On the Zoom Developer Forum, a staff member for the video conferencing platform had confirmed earlier in February that Zoom has access to the "com.apple.developer.avfoundation.multitasking-camera-access," or ‌iPad‌ Camera Multitasking entitlement.

zoom dev forum ipad api
For obvious reasons, this ability is useful when users may want to reference and use a separate app during a video conferencing call. Without this special API, if a user puts a video conferencing app into Split view mode, the video call would go dark as the app cannot access the ‌iPad‌ camera when multitasking.

The new revelation comes at a troubling time for the Cupertino tech giant. The company is currently embroiled in a mammoth legal battle with game developer Epic Games, which accuses it of holding unfair, and anti-competitive control over the App Store and the distribution of apps on iOS devices.

The trial between the two titans began on May 3, and ever since, evidence, including email correspondence between Apple executives and employees, has revealed that Apple has previously granted certain developers, such as Hulu, access to APIs unavailable to other developers. Apple contuines to pledge that it treats all developers the same and offers everyone a "level playing field."

We've reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

Tag: Zoom

Top Rated Comments

Westside guy Avatar
8 months ago

Every developer should be given equal access to APIs.
All developers ARE equal. It’s just that some developers are more equal than others.
Score: 100 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
8 months ago
It sucks that Apple does this. Every developer should be given equal access to APIs. I remember the guys at Linus Media Group talking about how difficult it is to launch a social media platform as a small company/operation on iOS because of limitations that very obviously don't exist on the mega apps like YouTube, Netflix, etc.
Score: 82 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tadasZ Avatar
8 months ago

And what does it have to do with in-app purchases?
”You gave them a special API so we must have our exception with the payment and taxes”
Epic is acting like a 4yo child
come on dude.. the point is that apple lies saying they treat every app developer equal, it's just not true - one can use special api other get banned for the same thing (eg. parental control apps). I hope apple loses agains epic, it will be good for everyone.
Score: 58 Votes (Like | Disagree)
displayblock Avatar
8 months ago

And what does it have to do with in-app purchases?
”You gave them a special API so we must have our exception with the payment and taxes”
Epic is acting like a 4yo child
They are pointing out that Apple allows some apps certain privileges that others do not have access to, and that Apple will bend their own rules based on arbitrary decisions.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lihp8270 Avatar
8 months ago

It sucks that Apple does this. Every developer should be given equal access to APIs. I remember the guys at Linus Media Group talking about how difficult it is to launch a social media platform as a small company/operation on iOS because of limitations that very obviously don't exist on the mega apps like YouTube, Netflix, etc.
Are you a developer?

The company I work for uses a certain software package. As a trusted partner, We have access to APIs which are undocumented and not available to all. This is because our use case demands it.

Without the API access, and comms directly with their development teams it wouldn’t be possible for us to use their software solution.

As a personal side gig I have a watch app. There’s no way I’d expect to get the same level of access as a major company, particularly with regards to accessing APIs which I don’t need.

An important rule of any secure system is that people have access to only what they need and nothing more.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TehFalcon Avatar
8 months ago
I can understand this during these times, however it's odd that other big platforms (like Teams) didn't also get access.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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