Zoom received special treatment on Apple's platform, with the videoconferencing program being granted access to private APIs that allow the iPad camera to be used during Split View multitasking.
Zoom can access Apple's private APIs
Zoom was granted access to a private API by Apple in order to use the iPad camera in multitasking.
Developer Jeremy Provost made the discovery after finding evidence that Zoom for iPad uses Apple's private APIs. According to one of the posts on Provost's personal blog, this allows Zoom to be used in side-by-side Split View multitasking with another tool.
When you need to reference something on Twitter or browse a website in Safari while on a Zoom video call, this feature comes in handy. Apple's approach here is best described as "preferential treatment," since the only other piece of videoconferencing software is Apple's own FaceTime that can use the camera during Split View multitasking.
"An entitlement is used to allow this capability. App developers allow public entitlements, such as iCloud access or push alerts, in order to gain access to certain OS features. However, private entitlements have existed for a long time. For instance, an app's ability to integrate with CarPlay is one example."
On the Apple Developer website, you can find more detail about entitlements.
Apple makes public documents available to developers who want to apply for CarPlay, HomeKit, and other platform features. The entitlement for iPad Camera Multitasking is named com.apple.developer.avfoundation.multitasking-camera-access, according to a February 2021 article on the Zoom Developer Forum.
However, unlike CarPlay, there is no public mechanism for demanding this privilege.
Special Developers get Preferential Treatment
"Its presence is not even publicly known by Apple," according to Provost. "If you Google it, all you'll find is the Zoom Developer Forum," he said.
This isn't the first time Apple has granted big apps access to features that aren't registered. One of the slides shown during the Epic Games v. Apple case showed that Apple had offered Netflix custom APIs to change Apple subscriptions, manage free trials, and extend auto-renew dates. Apple also provided Hulu with APIs that were not accessible to other developers.
However, the news that Zoom has been granted access to Apple's private API for iPad camera access comes at an inopportune time for the Cupertino company, which is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Epic over the App Store's terms of service.
In the modern era of working from home and the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom, founded by former Cisco engineer and executive Eric Yuan in 2011 and released in 2013, has become the de-facto default videoconferencing site.
Since Zoom is a frictionless, cross-platform solution that works on a variety of devices, people can participate in immersive multi-party video calls without having to worry about compatibility.