Zoom has special access to your iPad's camera

It's meant to help with multitasking, but other apps can't use it.

Rachel Weill via Getty Images

Wondering why you can multitask during a Zoom video call on your iPad when you can't with other apps? Zoom isn't being sneaky — it's just taking advantage of a good relationship. As 9to5Mac reports, developer Jeremy Provost has learned that Zoom has special permission from Apple to use the iPad's camera during Split View multitasking. The company told Provost it received a private "entitlement" letting it use a multitasking-friendly programming interface that's normally off-limits outside of FaceTime.

Entitlements aren't new, but they're typically public and just require that developers walk through a process to enable them. You can ask for CarPlay integration for a navigation app, for example. The iPad camera entitlement, however, is undocumented and only available to those Apple considers "worthy," according to Provost.

We've asked Apple for comment.

It's not surprising that Zoom would get this access. The video chat app has become a mainstay of pandemic life — video chats while multitasking could be essential for remote school and work. The concern, of course, is that competing apps might not get the same access. You might be out of luck if you need to use a common alternative like Facebook Messenger, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.

This isn't to say Apple reserves every special feature for itself. 9to5 noted that the M1 iPad Pro's Center Stage camera panning will be available to third-party apps. Still, this latest discovery likely won't be thrilling if you want third-party apps to have the same privileges as Apple's own.