When Vision Pro launches next year, it will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps out of the box. Despite being loaded with cameras, Apple explains that Vision Pro won’t actually expose these cameras to third-party apps that otherwise request access on iPhone and iPad.

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As David Heaney at UploadVR highlights, the company addresses camera access in a developer session on enhancing existing apps for visionOS:

When apps request camera and microphone availability, expect different values to be returned than iPad and iPhone. When querying microphone, apps will receive a single front location microphone. When querying camera, apps will find two cameras. The back camera returns a black camera frame with a no camera glyph. This is a nonfunctional camera to support apps that assume back camera availability. When querying for front camera, apps find a single composite camera. If no spatial Persona is found on a device, then no camera frames will return to apps.


In short, outward-facing cameras are locked down. Inward-facing cameras, on the other hand, sort of work… as long as you have a virtual Persona created to represent you. That’s what FaceTime uses since it’s not possible to point the headset at yourself while wearing it Zoom and WebEx will also tap into Persona to help you be present in video calls.

No surprise there considering Vision Pro is the first product of its kind for Apple. The company typically only starts to open up elements of its hardware and software when a product matures. That’s when Apple usually has spent time ensuring opening hardware access doesn’t compromise user privacy in any way.

David goes on to characterize how other companies treat camera access for third-party apps on their headset products. Meta and HTC match Apple’s approach, and ByteDance only allows camera access on its Enterprise headset.

Of course, Apple will allow users to capture photos and videos from the camera app in visionOS. There’s even a dedicated hardware button for snapping photos and videos. This type of media will capture 3D photos and videos not possible to create on iPhone and iPad.

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