Apple Shows Government-Approved Apps in iPhone Setup in Russia


Illustration for article titled Apple Caves to Russia and Begins Showing Russian Government-Approved Apps During iPhone Setup

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

After reportedly calling the requirements of a new Russian law a security threat and threatening to pull out of the country, Apple caved and decided to let Russia have its way, saying it would allow users to install government-approved Russian apps during iPhone setup. In recent days, we’ve gotten a first glimpse of what that looks like.

Spotted by MacRumors, Russian users have started to see a list of Russian app suggestions when setting up a new iPhone. The change has been spotted the same week a 2019 Russian law came into force. The law requires smart devices, e.g. smartphones, computers, tablets, and smart TVs, purchased in Russia to come pre-installed with government-approved Russian apps. Twitter user @KhaosT took a screen recording of the new iPhone setup, which looks pretty normal until you get to the special App Store popup.

“In compliance with Russian legal requirements, continue to view available apps to download,” the popup reads.

A few seconds later, another screen titled, “From the App Store Russian Apps,” appears with apps such as the Yandex Browser, Yandex.Maps, Yandex.Desk, Mail.ru, ICQ messenger, and the VK social network, among others. Users can click on the “Get” button to install them. As noted by MacRumors, thanks to reported deal between the Russian government and Apple, installing the apps is optional and they are not pre-installed on the device.

Apple told Reuters this week that even though it intended to comply with the new law, all apps are reviewed to ensure they comply with the company’s standards for privacy, security, and content.

The law was originally passed in 2019, although its implementation was delayed until April of this year. According to Reuters, Apple “dragged its feet” before finally agreeing last month to offer a way for users to install the government-approved apps during iPhone setups.

MacRumors reported that Apple would start providing Russian app suggestions on April 1. In addition, Apple told the outlet that it may add a new section to the App Store that aims to promote Russian apps. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that iPhone users in Russian can…

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