If you follow the smartphone market, you must be aware of vivo’s new NEX series of phones and Oppo’s new Find X. For starters, both devices offer motorized pop-up cameras (NEX series features selfie pop-up camera, while Find X has all cameras mounted on the pop-up mechanism).

While this new design has received a fair share of praise from all quarters, it has also brought to light scenarios when apps access your phone’s camera without you knowing about it.

Case in point, a vivo Nex S user in China (the only market where the device is currently available) recently recorded a video showing the device’s selfie camera popping up when a Telegram chat window is opened.

Of course, this is annoying and distracting, if not downright a privacy breach – app developers say this brief interaction with camera isn’t anything to worry about, but the claim is debatable.

Anyway, the widespread coverage this story received meant Telegram took the notice, and a fix for the problem is included in the latest beta update (4.8.11), which has been made available for the Android platform.

The fix comes in the form of a new option – dubbed Disable Camera init in Chat – in the Debug menu.


Here’s the unofficial change-log:

Enable/Disable Camera Init in Chat.
Fixed Vivo Nex’s Pop-Up Camera Bug.

And following is the developer comment on the feature (the text is apparently translated from some other language):

App will no longer query camera resolutions when open chat, this means that first attempt of recording video message will start with some delay (I hope it will be short). Also camera in attach menu will not be visible instantly on first open

Here’s what they added further:

This is workaround for stupid OS and device developers who adding their custom device things to Camera.open instead of actually starting recording videos and taking photos.
With this new debug menu option you can revert everything to old behavior

Given the fix has made it to the beta channel, it’s reasonable to expect the next stable build will include it (assuming the testing completes without any hiccup).

Baidu app found using camera when not in use

Meanwhile, as per fresh reports from China, vivo NEX series users have now alleged that Baidu’s voice input app uses camera even when it is inactive.

The allegations prompted Baidu to come up with a response, wherein the company blamed vivo’s pop-up camera mechanism saying the device’s camera module falsely assumes the app needs to access the camera when all that app is doing is performing some optimizations.

Baidu further said their app behaves the same way on other devices as well, so nothing special is going on in case of vivo new NEX series phones. Meanwhile, vivo has also updated its camera system (version 1.15.4) with new permissions management.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma
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