The developers behind Luna Display and Astropad Studio have run afoul of the App Store review guidelines, because they were a bit too innovative for the maker of all things “i.” Astro HQ’s Camera Button was set to appear in an update to Astropad Studio, but the new version of the app was rejected by Apple.
What’s a Camera Button?
When we ran out of buttons to hide our software’s UI behind, it really forced us to use our imagination. Instead of squeezing UI in where it didn’t fit, we built a new button to conceal it: it’s called the Camera Button.- Astro HQ
Astro HQ unveiled the feature a few weeks back, providing a new means for accessing shortcuts and menus. The idea behind Astro HQ’s Camera Button was to maximize screen real estate while still providing a full, robust experience for the company’s apps.
Astro HQ's Camera Button was innovative. Perhaps too much so.
Basically, the Camera Button feature worked by detecting the amount of light coming in through the front-facing camera. When a user covered the camera up with his or her finger, blocking all light, a menu would appear in the iPad app. It’s definitely unique, superbly innovative, and certainly a violation of a certain part of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines.
The Violated Guideline That Led to an Update Rejection
It doesn’t take long to find out why Astro HQ’s Camera Button might have caused the app update to be rejected. In Section 2.5.9 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, you find this language:
Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected.
The function of the front-facing camera, alas, is a “native user interface element.” Apple tends to be a real stickler about such things, so yes, it was disappointing that the update was rejected. It wasn’t a surprise, though.
A Disconnect Between Apple’s Paradigms and Those of App Developers
Apple is showing its own brand of innovation in changing the paradigms developers need to keep up with. Astro HQ wrote about the death of the Home Button on the iPhone X, perhaps fearing that the same thing might eventually take place with the iPad. To wit, Astro HQ wrote, “every further simplification of Apple hardware keeps us on our toes.”
Perhaps Cupertino needs to bear in mind the needs of app developers more in its design changes, or make changes to the App Review Guidelines for circumstances such as this one. Art apps, in particular, need all the screen real estate they can muster, so cluttering the display with buttons that could or should be hardware-based is detrimental to the user experience.