Thoughts on iOS 4 camera APIs: privacy issues, new UI possibilities?

August 17th, 2010 § Comments Off on Thoughts on iOS 4 camera APIs: privacy issues, new UI possibilities? § permalink

While playing with the new AVFoundation APIs, it occurred to me that in iOS 4, apps can now easily access the camera with no feedback to the user. Before, apps had to use UIImagePickerController, which shows the iris-opening animation before recording starts, even if you hide the preview image using cameraViewTransform. With AVFoundation’s AVCaptureSession, there is no indication to the user at all that the camera is in use unless the app provides its own. There is no permission alert, nor any LED indicator like a webcam. An app could secretly be recording your face with the iPhone 4’s front-facing camera and sending it to who knows where. I wonder if Apple’s app review team checks for this in some way?

On the other hand, the new APIs make it much easier to integrate non-photo-taking uses of the camera into an app. I could imagine using the iPhone 4’s front camera for non-touch gesture controls or facial expression recognition. Makes me wish I knew something about real time image processing!