10th November 2022 – (Beijing) With iOS 16.1.1, Apple is limiting AirDrop “Everyone” option for up to 10 minutes due to protests in China. The restriction, as of now, is limited to the country, although it could eventually expand globally. Here’s what you need to know about this change, which is also available with iOS 16.2 beta 2.
According to Bloomberg, Apple made the change to AirDrop on iPhones sold in China. The publication says that “the shift came after protesters in the country used the service to spread posters opposing Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. The use of AirDrop to sidestep China’s strict online censorship has been well-documented over the past three years.”
AirDrop allows users to quickly exchange files such as images, documents, and videos between Apple devices – your own or other people’s. While users could choose between no one, contacts only, or everyone for AirDrop, Apple is now limiting with iOS 16.1.1 the option “Everyone” for up to 10 minutes of usage.
Apple didn’t comment on the change introduced in China but said it plans to roll out the new AirDrop setting globally “in the coming year” to “mitigate unwanted file sharing.”
Bloomberg notes that this isn’t the first time Apple has made sketchy decisions to comply with the Chinese government. For example, in 2019, it hid the Taiwanese flag emoji for users in Hong Kong or Macau, it has removed apps for virtual private networks or VPNs, and limits Apple’s own service in the country, such as Apple TV+, the iTunes Store, paid podcasts, Apple Books, and Apple Arcade.
iOS 16.1.1 also introduces bug fixes and security improvements. Apple fixed at least two paths that others could have exploited. In addition, the company is testing iOS 16.2, which is set to be released in mid-December. It will bring the new Freeform app, more frequent usage of Live Activities, and more.