Apple forced to offer Russian iPhone users local apps during installation thanks to new law

0

iPhones bought in Russia will now show a list of apps made in Russia at startup, thanks to a new law coming into effect today, MacRumors reportsThe prompt is part of the standard iPhone setup process and appears after the user selects other options such as allowing location services or app analysis.

“In accordance with Russian legal requirements, keep checking available apps for download,” reads the dry text, before a short list of a dozen apps is displayed. These include several Yandex apps, an email app from Mail.ru, a video live streaming service called OK Live, and the popular Russian social network VK. A ‘Get’ icon is displayed next to each app, which gives the user a shortcut to install them.

The prompt is in response to a Russian law originally passed in 2019 that requires manufacturers to install pre-made software made by Russia on devices sold in the country. It includes smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, laptops and desktop computers. According to to Reutersthe law is part of a broader effort by Moscow to reduce its reliance on foreign companies and gain more control over the Internet.

Last month, Apple agreed to comply with the law by allowing users to install Russian apps at startup. It is a remarkable concession from the company, which typically retains strict control over the installation process of its devices. However, Apple has been willing to make changes in apparent efforts to comply with Russia’s local laws in the past, including changing maps to represent Crimea as Russian territory and removing a gay pride watch face.

Reuters notes that the major beneficiaries of the new law are likely to be Yandex and Mail.ru. But last month, a Russian official said in a statement that alternative apps will be included if they prove popular with users.