Apple Vision Pro, the Cupertino-based company’s first-ever mixed reality headset, was announced on June 5 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2023. The mixed-reality headset that supports both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies runs on the visionOS operating system and is set to go on sale early next year in the US. Ahead of its launch, an Apple engineer confirmed that third-party developers won’t have access to the camera feeds of the Apple Vision Pro. Apple is disallowing camera access citing privacy concerns.
During the WWDC 2023 developer talks (via UploadVR), an Apple engineer confirmed that third-party developers don’t receive access to Apple Vision Pro’s camera feeds. Due to privacy concerns, Apple will keep the camera access of the mixed reality headset under lock.
“When apps request camera and microphone availability, expect different values to be returned than iPad and iPhone. When querying a 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 non-functional 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”, said John Marc Hickey, Apple’s Platform Compatibility Engineer.
When making a FaceTime call using the Apple Vision Pro, the video feed will use a Persona of the wearer instead of a regular front-camera video feed. Personas are digital avatars of the wearer and it is created using Apple’s machine-learning techniques to display the face and hand movements of the user in real-time. Apps like Zoom and WebEx are also said to use Personas during meetings. For the rear camera, visionOS will return a black feed with a “no camera” icon in the centre. This would stop the app from crashing and prevent developers from building their custom computer vision solutions.
According to UploadVR, raw camera access is forbidden for competitors such as Meta Quest headsets. HTC also disallows raw camera access on Vive XR Elite. However, this may change in the coming years after the launch of new headsets.
The Apple Vision Pro is priced at $3,499 (roughly Rs. 2,88,500) and will be available for purchase in the US starting in 2024. It runs on visionOS and features two high-resolution micro-OLED displays. It is powered by Apple’s M2 and a new R1 chipsets.