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Apple Bans My Favorite Camera App for Hidden Feature

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Apple’s yanked Camera+ from its App store shortly after TapTapTap, a popular app developer, revealed a hidden feature called VolumeSnap. Visiting ”camplus://enablevolumesnap” into Safari on any iPhone loaded with Camera+ turns the volume buttons into shutter buttons. This is a heck of a lot better than having to tap at the screen to take a photo. By using the volume button as a shutter release it’s easier to hold the iPhone steady and to compose shots. It’s also possible to take a photo with one hand. Users can hold down a volume button to take continuous shots.

TapTapTap had an update to Camera+ rejected by Apple when it originally introduced this feature, but enough users requested it that they apparently thought it was worth the risk. Here’s the official description from the rejected update:

VolumeSnap ~ use your iPhone’s volume controls to snap photos!

Using Camera+ now feels just like a real camera. Your photos can be sharper because you can now hold your iPhone steadier with two hands instead of fumbling around for the shutter button on screen.

In addition, you can plug your iPhone earphones in and use the volume buttons on them as a remote shutter control.

And here’s Apple’s reason for rejecting that update:

Your application cannot be added to the App Store because it uses iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion. Changing the behavior of iPhone external hardware buttons is a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Applications must adhere to the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines as outlined in the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement section 3.3.7.

Volume Buttons—What Users Expect

Users use the device’s volume buttons to adjust the volume of all sounds their devices can play, including songs, application sounds, and device sounds. Users can always use the volume buttons to quiet any sound, regardless of the position of the Ring/Silent switch.

Using the volume buttons to adjust an application’s currently playing audio also adjusts the overall system volume, with the exception of the ringer volume. (Using the volume buttons when no audio is currently playing adjusts the ringer volume.)

That’s right, iPhone users are too stupid to figure out if pressing the volume button, after intentionally enabling the feature, will take a photo or increase the volume of music that may or may not be playing in the background.

Fortunately, if you have a freshly updated copy of Camera+ on your iPhone you can enable VolumeSnap. It’ll remain my primary iPhone camera app and I’ll avoid updating it if it ever makes it back to the app store with the feature removed. My suggestion to TapTapTap: don’t remove the feature from Camera+, create a new app so us loyal customers don’t accidentally downgrade this awesome app.

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

14 Comments

  1. Warner Crocker

    08/12/2010 at 10:15 am

    Yeah, I managed to run the Easter Egg before Apple pulled the app and even after doing the update to iOS4.0.2 it still works. I agree Camera+ is a great app.

  2. Tuur

    08/12/2010 at 10:55 am

    Apple = Dictators

  3. GTX

    08/12/2010 at 11:04 am

    Think Different.

  4. Sumocat

    08/12/2010 at 11:54 am

    I seriously need to see how other people take photos. I completely understand if you want a physical button to press, but TapTapTap claims it allows you to use two hands. You claim it allows for one hand. Meanwhile, I’ve been taking photos on my iPhone two-handed, one-handed, portrait, landscape, even upside-down for two years. I’ve determined from a commenter at Gizmodo that using my thumb to press the camera button is the reason for my advantage, but I use my thumb on every camera. I don’t know how everyone else does it.

    • Xavier Lanier

      08/12/2010 at 12:53 pm

      The physical buttons give you the flexibility to use one or two hands. I find it much more comfortable to use than the on-screen shutter release. I prefer using my right index finger, just like I’ve done for the past 20+ years with every camera I’ve ever used.

      • Sumocat

        08/12/2010 at 2:45 pm

        I get the last two points; it’s only the one and two hand thing I don’t understand. I’ve been using one and two hands just fine without a physical button. I legitimately don’t know why a button affects anything aside from preference.

        • Xavier Lanier

          08/12/2010 at 3:01 pm

          It is just preference I guess, but a lot of people seem to prefer it :-)

        • Nebula

          05/01/2011 at 3:46 am

          self portraits are a bitch when you dont have a physical button.

  5. Mark

    08/12/2010 at 12:13 pm

    “Easter Egg” is a cutsie way of saying “trojan”. Apple had every right to take it out of the app store. If you want to bitch, bitch at the people who thought they could have it both ways.

    • aftermath

      08/12/2010 at 1:02 pm

      Agreed. Neither the user nor the developer controls the rights. Apple does. It’s neither bad nor good as much as it is just true. Whining about having no rights or whining when it adversely affect you certainly doesn’t make much sense when you voluntarily put yourself in that position in the first place.

      If you’re new to Apple, you need to learn to sing the coping song: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Apple life… it’s Apple’s right” It’s been around forever.

  6. reason

    08/12/2010 at 1:31 pm

    TapTapTap should release Camera+ as a jailbreak app in Cydia or Rock.

  7. Andrew Beery

    08/13/2010 at 8:21 am

    I love Apple products but I’ve got to scratch my head at their thinking sometimes… this has been a wildly popular application… claiming the users will be confused by an optional hardware shutter is either dictatorial, an how-and-out lie or a slam at the intelligence of Apples users… If Apple wants to put a stop to jailbreaking once and for all they need to open up their platform… perhaps a compatibility rating system… HC-Highly Compatible, GC-Generally Compatible, CNR-Compatible but Not Recommended

    • Andrew Beery

      08/13/2010 at 8:22 am

      “how-and-out” = “Out-and-out”… darn typos!

  8. WadeHM

    08/14/2010 at 1:16 pm

    I actually cannot hold the iPhone steady while taking a shot with the volume button.

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