Think the iPad doesn't have enough buttons? Well, that's all about to change thanks to Astro HQ's Camera Button.
For those who don't know, Astro HQ is the brains behind the popular drawing app Astropad. From the look of things, its next milestone after winning the favor of many digital artists is Luna Display, an app that aims to turn the iPad into a wireless Mac display, which also turns the Apple tablet's front camera into an extra button.
iPad's New Button
Instead of a floating button, Luna Display uses a clever workaround via the front camera to really give the user all the screen space the iPad has to offer. It won't involve physically overhauling the component or anything like it, or in other words, it's purely software.
What happens is whenever the user taps on the front camera, a panel on the screen will pull up. Another tap will close said on-screen menu, which is used just like any other ordinary button.
Needless to say, the camera will be constantly running this way because it needs to be on standby for those taps. The problem with that is it'll eat up battery life pretty quickly, and to make things worse, privacy becomes a bigger concern than it already is.
However, Astro HQ has the answer that not only addresses the issue with energy efficiency but also the bit about privacy. That's more or less hitting two birds with one stone.
"The solution: blur the camera images to the point of not being able to see any data coming in, so the only thing the camera registers is the amount of light coming in," Astro HQ says.
Put simply, it's only on the lookout for whenever the camera view becomes dark. At that, the developers say that the Camera Button needs only less than 1 percent of the iPad's CPU to function.
If that doesn't seem to be convincing enough, the feature can be turned off, though.
Luna Display: What About Those Who Opt Out?
Since the feature is optional, there should be a replacement that can carry out the same task for those who aren't sold to the Camera Button.
Originally, Astro HQ planned to use the iPad's volume buttons, but Apple unfortunately forbids tinkering with them. That said, there's a strong possibility that a floating button will be the fallback here.
More importantly, the Camera Button isn't exactly even in the clear just yet, as the Cupertino brand could step in anytime and put a halt to it. Still, the developers have done their homework, and they don't see why Apple should pull the plug on the hack of sorts.
"We looked through the App Review guidelines, and we don't see a reason why the Camera Button wouldn't be allowed," Astro HQ CEO Matt Ronge tells The Verge in an email.
Luna Display is planned to roll out sometime in May, and it should launch without a hitch since it has gone above and beyond its Kickstarter goal already — that is, if Apple doesn't put its foot down on it.