Astro HQ made news headlines recently when they announced a new feature coming to their Astropad drawing app and their upcoming Luna Display. It was an easy way to incorporate an additional button into their app without sacrificing screen space by using the front facing camera. It appears Apple disagreed with how innovating this idea was.

The “Camera Button”, as Astro HQ referred to it as, was a neat idea. Instead of creating a complicated gesture, or adding an additional button the screen, they used the front facing camera. You just tapped the camera, and a contextual menu would appear. We got to test this feature out in a prerelease version of the Luna Display app.  I found it to be a great way to access settings without having to mar the experience of the second display.

Astro HQ also had plans to bring this feature to their fantastic Astropad drawing application as well.

However, when the submitted the app for review, Apple rejected it. Astro HQ announced the news in a Medium post. Apple cited App Store guideline 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. — App Store Review Guidelines.

While this is no doubt disappointing, Astro HQ is determined to move past their ill-fated Camera Button and continue to push for new innovative features.

We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of software and hardware engineering so that we can create the best productivity tools possible.

I for one am quite disappointed by this. I actually wanted to see other developers start using this in their apps as well.

It isn’t a huge surprise that Apple wasn’t too excited by this idea. They tend to be very rigid with their review guidelines, and this quite clearly tries to skirt the rules. We’ve seen them reject apps for less.

Do you think Apple is being too strict, or is it fair to say this feature went to far? Let us know below.

  • Franklin Richards

    I get where Apple is coming from. Some idiot somewhere is going to”push” the camera button a little too hard and will blame Apple for it. Shame though it seems like a cool addition to apps.

  • I’d imagine such a function would take a bit of a hit in the battery as well since I assume the camera would need to be permanently active to be able to detect the “button press”.

  • Iskren Donev

    That was a great hack and I am sad that it won’t see the light of day. However it does come with real privacy/battery implications so I can see why Apple rejected it.

    What I mean by this is that if Apple allowed this app, it would set a pretty open and well known precedent of having the camera always on while not signaling this to the user in any way.

    You can imagine how the next app to do this might actually start taking photos of you without your knowledge.

  • 电天堂

    Now make that a jailbreak tweak and BOOM it’s amazing.

  • ready1take1

    This is why we need jailbreaking. Why do we put up with apple telling us how we can use their devices? Developers shouldn’t put up with it either.

  • Mike pHuckabee

    This is why iPhones have fallen so far behind Android. Android software allows for endless innovation. Often that innovation is then baked into the OS. When I use my wife’s iPhone in always amazed by the lack of sophistication.

    • You forgot one fundamental detail. Android exists only because of iOS.

      I know, it’s difficult ??

      • Mike pHuckabee

        Yes Apple started the whole smart phone revolution. But often the 2nd movers are the innovators and winners with Android controlling 82% of new phone sales worldwide. Competition is good. For instance, Apple probably would still have small phones otherwise. I wish there were more OS competitors to push it even more.

  • nonchalont

    Did I hear Jailbreak? =D

  • Up Stream

    I can understand why this feature went too far for apple but to stop someone innovating like that feels very unfair. The front facing camera has existed since 2010 and since this hasn’t been done before it’s obviously not easy to do or at least something no ones thought about. This will put off developers from doing anything different in their apps which is something Apple really don’t need with the current App Store.