Users who set up a new iPhone in Russia see a screen that allows them to automatically install applications that have been officially approved by the Russian government, in compliance with Russian law, as of April 1.
The relevant law was passed in 2019, and requires smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and smart TVs sold in Russia to initially include specific applications produced by Russian companies by April 1.
The law was scheduled to go into effect in July 2020, but was postponed to April 2021.
And according to For site Russian news Vedomosti, it will not be Install apps if users don’t want them.
And confirmed a company Apple is complying with the law by giving users the option to install apps when the phone is activated.
Exactly which apps are offered to users remain unclear, although Vedomosti cites government services and apps from Russian companies, including Yandex, Mail.ru and Kaspersky Lab.
The government appears to realize that it can be difficult to favor certain apps, and plans to expand its list over time:
A Russian official told the Russian news site Vedomosti: The ministry is not at all interested in seeing popular apps included in the mandatory initial installation list take dominant positions, and if alternatives appear on the market, proving users’ interest and quickly gaining popularity, they will be included in this selection and also offered for installation.
Apple has historically maintained tight control over the iPhone setup process, and that appears to be changing now, even if it is only in one market.
And although Apple has made changes in the past in order to adhere to local laws – maps have changed, a set of smartwatch faces are blocked in Russia and store iCloud data via state-run servers in China – but this may be one of the more exciting changes, as it affects The screen every user sees when setting up an iPhone.
Apple is slowly allowing users to change the way iOS works with the ability to change some of the default apps in iOS 14, but now it gives the Russian government little control over the setup process.
And given that the company faces legal challenges from the European Union and the United States over antitrust, Apple may be forced to give more control to governments if they want to sell their phones to their citizens.