Apple pulls ChatGPT-like apps from Chinese App Store as 'socialist values' law nears

iPhone App Store showcasing apps and games sections
(Image credit: iMore)

Apple has reportedly removed more than a hundred ChatGPT-like apps from its Chinese App Store amid changes to local laws that would impact them.

The new law, which comes into force on August 15, requires that apps promote healthy content and “adhere to core socialist values,” while generating false information or anything that could endanger national security is also not allowed.

Apple frequently removes apps from the Chinese App Store to appease lawmakers and the country's government, and this is sure to be far from the last time it does it.

'Content that is illegal in China'

The South China Morning Post reports that regulation on generative AI has already impacted dozens of apps that offer services similar to that of ChatGPT and other generative AI services. Spark, one of those affected, only launched on June 29. Another, ChatGAi Plus, offers translation and writing services as well as chatbot functionality and was previously ranked 9th in the paid apps chart. That's now no longer available for download.

Apple emailed affected developers to warn them of the impending removal of their apps, saying that they were no longer allowed “because they include content that is illegal in China.” The email went on to blame new regulations on generative AI and similar technologies.

As for the real ChatGPT, that's still available in the App Store around the world. You can even replace Siri with ChatGPT if you really want to, although Apple is said to be working on its own large language models to improve its ailing digital assistant.

The rumored launch of both iOS 17 and iPhone 15 next month will come far too soon for that new and upgraded Siri, but don't let that dampen the excitement around Apple's best iPhones. A new titanium construction, a periscope camera for improved zoom, and an Action button could make the iPhone 15 Pro a worthy upgrade once it's official.

Oliver Haslam

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.