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Apple pulls Camera+ following note about hidden feature

updated 12:45 pm EDT, Thu August 12, 2010

Company frowns on undocumented code

Apple has removed TapTapTap's popular Camera+ from the App Store. The title improves on the iPhone's default camera app by adding extra features, like software stabilization and touch-based exposure control. An update was in fact approved a little over a week ago, making the takedown all the more unusual.

Based on timing, the rejection appears to be in response to an August 11th Twitter post (now deleted), in which TapTapTap revealed that by visiting camplus://enablevolumesnap in Safari, people could make an iPhone's volume buttons act as a shutter control. Apple has a strict policy against undocumented functions, as these can be used to violate other rules (for example by allowing tethering workarounds), or in worst-case scenarios introduce malware. The company does allow benign Easter eggs, but it requires instructions on how to unlock them.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Seems odd that you could go to a URL and have a feature enabled in an app. Sounds like a security issue to me.

    And is the shutter speed change a published API? One would think that would be more of a reason to take it down then having the capability and not 'documenting' it (for why would you need to document that you use a public API?). It would also explain why it was put in through a 'backdoor'.

  1. FireWire

    Joined: Dec 1969


    come on...

    that's a reason as to why I hate Apple sometimes. ouuhhhh you can cleverly use unused buttons to make something useful, we're not going to tolerate that...

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: come on...

    Oh, it's that "user experience" thing again...

  1. rbodgers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Using Private API's is Bad

    The vast majority of the time, private API's are private because they might change from release to release. If developers started using private API's, then each time Apple rev'ed the OS, those apps could become unstable. Then, when your parents update their iPhone and suddenly their favorite camera app breaks, who are they going to blame? They really have no way to know who's fault it is. But if the only thing that changed was the OS, then lots of people will jump to the reasonable conclusion that it was the OS update that broke it, when in fact, it was a naughty developer using private API's.

  1. rbodgers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    New Public API's

    New public API's sometimes start life as... wait for it... private API's in a previous OS. It takes time, and often trial and error, to get an API right. If you tell developers that version 1 of the API is good to go, but then change your mind, all of those developers who used your v.1 API need to update their code. If they don't, Apple looks like the fool. Because an OS update caused all of these applications to become unstable.

    That's not to say that all private API's will some day be public. But it happens all the time. In fact, Apple solicits feedback from developers, listening to requests to make specific private API's public:
    "Please do not access undeclared APIs in your applications. This includes undeclared classes, methods, and instance variables. If you have a strong need for a private API and have no workaround, please let us know."

    In fact, Apple does make exceptions:
    "After carefully considering the issue, Apple is now allowing applications to use the function UIGetScreenImage() to programmatically capture the current screen contents."

    Lastly, I'll just link to John Gruber (Daring Fireball), with a great overview:

    If you're interested, read it. If you just want to complain about Apple, skip it.

  1. lowededwookie

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    My question is why did they have to use undocumented APIs?

    Surely they don't have to use the Volume controls to pull this off. If it was programmed with a decent UI then they would only have to do that in the application.

    Of course I guess it would depend on whether the published APIs actually allow adjustment of the shutter speed at all which would be another point against the developers.

  1. legacyb4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What happens if you've already bought the app

    does it get deleted or disabled?

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