Apple Vision Pro developers complain that Apple's privacy rules are harming app development

Vision Pro home screen
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

One of Apple's key selling points for devices is privacy and user protection. But according to some developers, one of the Vision Pro headset's key privacy features is actually harming app development.

To make sure that apps can't spy on you or record your surroundings, third-party apps for visionOS can't access the Vision Pro's camera – unlike Apple's best iPhones. Only system apps, such as FaceTime, can use the onboard camera. But some developers claim that this limitation is stifling app development, with apps unable to use this key hardware feature.

Stifling app development?

Apple's decision to limit access to the Vision Pro's camera has left developers frothing at the bit, unable to unleash the full potential of their creativity. A report from The Information highlights a couple of vocal developers, backed by some hush-hush support from former Apple employees.

One developer, Kalani Helekunihi, dreams of crafting apps for older adults and those with disabilities. He describes a vision where logging in is as simple as looking at a barcode, and where the visually impaired can have their surroundings described to them. Then there's Antony Vitillo, who's itching to bring his Meta Quest game, HitMotion: Reloaded, to the Vision Pro. He envisions a future where real-world objects (such as a punching bag) can be integrated into the game, blending the lines between the virtual and the physical. Of course, neither of these app ideas are possible with Apple's camera limitation.

Both developers argue that unlocking the camera would be akin to opening Pandora's Box of functionality, yet Apple seems unmoved by their plight. Apple employees explained that the tech giant, haunted by the ghost of privacy concerns past, decided to err on the side of caution, fearing unwanted recordings from nefarious apps. These employees also shared that when discussing this issue internally, Apple believed the camera limitation wouldn't stifle app development.

If Apple is to open up more of the Vision Pro's hardware to developers, the fast approaching WWDC 2024 developer conference in June would be the time to do so. We're expecting visionOS 2 to be unveiled, which is bound to include a bunch of changes for developers and users alike.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.