Apple puts a 10 minute limit on receiving AirDrop transfers in China

The iOS 16.1.1 update that Apple rolled out in China came with something extra that wasn’t included in the release for other regions. According to Bloomberg, it limits the time a user can receive files via AirDrop from non-contacts to 10 minutes. Prior to this change, people can choose to get AirDrops from anyone indefinitely.

As the news organization notes, activists and protesters in China are using AirDrop as a way to circumvent the country’s online censorship measures. It was widely used during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong to share images of police brutality. More recently, protesters have used it to spread messages against the Chinese government and denounce the rule of Xi Jinping. By limiting the “everyone” option, users are less likely to receive messages from random protesters. After all, they will have to reactivate the option every few minutes.

This isn’t the first time Apple has introduced a feature — or, in this case, a restriction — exclusive to a particular region. That said, the tech giant has been criticized in the past for adhering to rules designed to curtail dissent in China and for making changes that would ensure it remains in the good graces of the Chinese government. Apple was previously accused of handing over some of its data centers in the country to Chinese authorities. More recently, the company has reportedly told Taiwanese suppliers to ensure that parts going to the mainland are not shipped with “Made in Taiwan” labels. Instead, their source should be noted as “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China.”

While Apple Didn’t Tell You Bloomberg why the restriction was introduced in the country, it told the organization that it will not remain exclusively Chinese. It reportedly plans to roll out the new setting to all users around the world next year to “reduce unwanted file sharing”.

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