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Safari in iOS 12.2 Set to Limit Web App Access to Various iPhone Sensors

A change appears to be coming in Safari as part of iOS 12.2 that could impact Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for users. The change has been found in the second beta of the next version of iOS and has to do with Safari. Specifically, by default, Safari will be set to limit a web app’s access to the gyroscope or accelerometer. This is under the “Motion & Orientation Access” toggle in Safari’s privacy settings.

On the surface, this is good news as it is another example of how Apple continues to focus on consumer privacy, Group FaceTime bugs not withstanding. But the knock-on effect could be larger. Because AR and VR experiences on the web depend on access to these sensors, it will likely break them for consumers. This could also play havoc with marketing companies who want to leverage AR.

How this will ultimately look when 12.2 is release is not clear. It is possible that Apple will set the default to on and simply prompt users on this new setting. This would certainly lower the barrier for most people and would have less of an impact on AR/VR experiences overall for consumers. It is also possible that they could omit it from 12.2 in the final build that is released to the public, but that is unlikely at this point. If the default is left off, then users who want to have these experiences will have to enable them. That isn’t overly difficult but it is a bit of a dive into Safari’s settings, something many consumers do not want to bother with overall.

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