Apple Cripples iOS News App In China To Avoid Inevitable Censorship Demands
This past June, on a day when Apple had a number of big announcements - such as OS X 'El Capitan', the much-expected launch of Apple Music, and the announcement of WatchOS 2 - the company also revealed a new app for the iPhone and iPad that it hopes will redefine how people read their news.
The aptly named News app lets people catch up on their news by browsing through automatically curated stories presented in a magazine format. Overall, a simple, but neat app. But despite its simplicity, this is one app that Apple has to be careful with. Because of its ability to automatically pull in stories that might interest you, certain governments might have an issue with it. China being a great example, and the reason for Apple's latest move.
Right now, the News app is only available in the United States, UK, and Australia. However, if you sign up in one of those countries, you'll be able to make use of it anywhere else in the world. Unless you're in China, as some have been finding out.
It seems that to avoid some obvious issues down the road, Apple has preemptively prevented the News app from working when connected to Chinese networks. Trying to use the app will give a simple error: "News isn't supported in your current region."
Thus far Apple interestingly has declined to comment. Making this move a little interesting is the fact that China is now Apple's second-largest customer. It makes sense, then, that it doesn't want the Chinese government to intervene and somehow thwart its sales there. Disabling the News app is, overall, a very easy way for Apple to avoid conflict.