Report: Apple restricted Chinese use of phone-to-phone info sharing amid growing protests

Operating system update reportedly disabled AirDrop feature.

Updated: November 29, 2022 - 1:48pm

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Apple reportedly restricted use of its popular AirDrop feature in China this month amid growing protests against the Chinese Communist Party's unilateral policies there. 

Protesters in that country had reportedly been using the iPhone AirDrop option in order to communicate with nearby protesters without oversight from government censors. The AirDrop feature normally allows users to open their phones indefinitely to access by any other nearby iPhones. 

Apple's latest iOS update, however, reportedly disables that function, according to multiple news reports including Fox Business. 

Now, users in China "can only use AirDrop to receive files, images, and videos from other non-contacts for 10 minutes," Fox Business said, after which "AirDrop shifts back to contacts only automatically."

The switch was first reported on by industry website 9to5Mac earlier this month.

The decision drew widespread criticism on social media. "Seeing Apple side with the CCP," market analyst Laya Heilpern said on Twitter, "tells you exactly what kind of company they are."

The 10-minute limit feature will reportedly be rolled out worldwide next year.