Apple plans better iPad multi-tasking in video meetings?
Do you ever get that thing where you’re in a video chat with colleagues using an iPad and need to exist the app to get a document or check an email? And the camera feed is terminated.
Or that thing where you try to get around this using Slide or Split View and each time you go into another app the camera picture cuts?
Well, it looks like Apple has a plan for that.
Now available in Zoom
Apple has provided Zoom with access to an API that means you can use other apps in Split View while continuing your video chat. FaceTime also offers this.
No other company has this access.
The feature is provided by a private API developers must apply for, but Apple has only made it available to Zoom at this time. Apple calls these sorts of API’s “Private entitlements” and they must be agreed on an ad hoc basis.
I expect this kind of support to become more widely available at WWDC when Apple introduces the next iteration of iPod OS.
It’s a feature desperately required by anyone attempting to use their iPads and any of the plethora of video collaboration apps as we continue to work from home.
The API is called: com.apple.developer.avfoundation.multitasking-camera-access, aka “iPad Camera Multitasking” entitlement, says MR.
A big beta test?
Of course, video is processor demanding, so it seems plausible to me to think Apple offered the API up to the most-used service (Zoom) as a kind of pre-release mass use beta test. Any problems making the feature work smoothly should already have shown themselves on Zoom’s platform, given the number of people using it.
It makes far more sense to see Zoom’s support for the feature as a temporary measure while Apple tests it at scale and in conjunction with multiple platforms. After all, FaceTime’s biggest challenge is that it only supports Apple products, but in the real world we need easy to use solutions that work across multiple platforms.
That’s why I expect we’ll see the feature made available to developers of other video collaboration systems, (particularly WebEx and Teams) at WWDC. I can’t imagine Apple won’t do this, given the increasing regulatory attention it is attracting around competition law. Plus, you know, it’s a tool that answers an actual need.
Video collaboration in the WWDC spotlight?
We know Apple is paying attention to video collaboration.
We know this because its recently announced iPad Pro introduces a feature called Center Stage, which uses machine learning to keep you in the center of the screen even as you fidget.
Of course, what would make things really good would be an app marketplace inside FaceTime, enabling better integration with enterprise stalwarts such as Slack, Box and all the rest. Well, that and better (secure) interoperability with third party video collaboration systems on other platforms.