I just got one of my laptops installed with Windows 10 and noticed that some applications like "App Connector", "Microsoft Edge", and "OneNote" were set to use the laptop camera.

The text in the settings for this says that "Some apps need access to your camera to work as intended...". The settings list looked as shown below although here I have disabled the use of the camera.

Windows 10 apps that want access to camera

My guess is that Microsoft Edge needs access to the camera in case I want to use it as a webcam, and maybe that OneNote camera access is more for Windows tablets that may be used as a portable camera.

About the "App Connector" however I saw an answer on this site that says:

App Connector seems to be related to MS Azure App Services like OneDrive and possibly Office 365 connectors like https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn948518.aspx that might optionally need to take pictures or know what country you're in as some services might have restrictions or optimizations by location for services they can provide.

I am not sure how correct above information is however, because of the persons use of words like "seems" and "might". Additionally stating that it's an app that might "need to take pictures" sounds like a privacy concern.

So I wanted to check here in case anyone knows.

What is the "app connector" and why would it want access to the camera?

  • Do you have Office or OneDrive even enabled? I have a couple theories but they are contextual and could easily dismissed if you fall outside of the context. – Ramhound Nov 20 '15 at 14:20
  • You forgot to quote the most important relevant information from that quote. Specifically, File explorer is one program that uses this app.. Basically the application indicates it has the possibility to be connected to the camera, because of <DeviceCapability Name="webcam" /> hence the reason you have to approve it. – Ramhound Nov 20 '15 at 14:24
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Based on my general knowledge on how Windows 10 Universal Applications work I have no reason to doubt the following explanation by Maury Szwerdszarf. While I could have generated my own answer, from the actual SDK documentation, my existing knowledge on the subject is good enough to determine these two existing explanations are accurate.

App Connector is W10's way to give programmers an easy way to interface with other Microsoft cloud-based services (Azure), MSN-based applications; or other application-based sites over the Internet.

Why would they need access to my location, camera, files, etc.? Not every program that calls App Connector will need or receive access to every one of those permissions, but each one will need access to at least one of them -- or it wouldn't need to call App Connector.

But, if you're worried about these apps invading your privacy, that's why there's a whole Settings menu for Privacy and the various types of privacy elements on your system. When an app registers itself to use App Connector to hit the Internet or use other such things, it will show up as a toggle that you can choose to permit or not. As for Windows Shell Experience, it's merely a simplified way to program how to use the User Interface elements, that are a bit more complicated than in prior versions of Windows.

Basically...As PostScript5 explains:

The App Connector is Microsoft middleware for Microsoft and third parties to connect and use in their application.

  • The App Connector provides internet (cloud) access to your system.

  • The App Connector provides access to:

    • picturesLibrary
    • videosLibrary
    • removableStorage
    • appointments
    • contacts
    • phoneCall
    • webcam
    • location
  • The App Connector provides the access(es) to the calling application and is secured by security settings somewhere in Windows 10.
  • The user may or may not be prompted during the application installation about these settings (not stated in your summary).
  • The App Connector can provide access to the calling application: one, many, or all of the user assets listed above.
  • The App Connector can not determine if excess permissions are being requested.

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