Chinese iPhone owners might not be able to download some of the world's most popular apps next year. That's if Apple is forced to remove them from the Chinese App Store following the implementation of new laws.
While the use of apps like Facebook, Instagram, and X is already blocked in China, the apps are available for download via the iPhone and iPad App Stores. That means that people can use them if they employ a VPN, something that is increasingly common among the younger population — but a new law could soon put a stop to that.
If Apple's discussions with the Chinese government don't come to a positive conclusion, all of those apps and more will be removed from the App Store in China, preventing people from downloading them.
The Chinese Firewall
China has long blocked access to Western websites and services in an attempt to better control the information its populace can access. But VPN use allows people to get around the so-called Great Firewall. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new law could prevent the apps from even being made available with Apple already in discussions with the government about the impact that will have on its users.
The report notes that "officials told Apple that it must strictly implement rules banning unregistered foreign apps, people familiar with the discussions said." It goes on to say that "Apple employees expressed concern over how the rules would be implemented and affect its users."
If Apple does have to remove unregistered apps from the App Store, the companies behind them will have the option of becoming registered in order to be reinstated. However, some apps simply won't be allowed through the registration process which amounts to an outright ban.
China outlined its plans to prevent unregistered apps from being used two months ago, with the law kicking in by July 2024.
With iPhones currently not allowing apps to be sideloaded — installed outside of the App Store — Chinese users might have to switch to Android devices if they want to continue to use their favorite Western services including Facebook, X, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
Don’t think this is going to go anywhereReply
Why do writers feel the need to use words like "Yank", instead of "remove". I have to laugh at the mental picture I get of someone in Cupertino reaching into the Chinese App Store, and jerking those apps out by hand.Reply
Yep, slapping those apps around by hand and tossing them off.Reply
LOL! This reminds me of this seen from Harry Potter:Ledsteplin said:Why do writers feel the need to use words like "Yank", instead of "remove". I have to laugh at the mental picture I get of someone in Cupertino reaching into the Chinese App Store, and jerking those apps out by hand.
My poor ears 👂!Annie_M said:LOL! This reminds me of this seen from Harry Potter: