Friday, April 19, 2024

Apple Removes Messaging Apps From Chinese App Store

MacRumors (CNN, Hacker News):

Apple on late Thursday into Friday removed the popular messaging and social media apps WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and Threads from its App Store in China at the request of the Chinese government, The Wall Street Journal reported.


In a statement shared with several media outlets, Apple said China’s national internet regulator ordered the removal of the apps from the App Store in the country due to unspecified “national security concerns.” Apple said it is “obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.”

However, it’s Apple’s choice to make distribution through the App Store a single point of failure.


Update (2024-04-24): John Gruber:

The answer re: sideloading is yes, and both Signal and WhatsApp offer direct downloads of their latest Android builds.


A small amount of Googling and it seems like sideloading the default way to get any Google apps in China since Android there isn't offered with the Play Store.

Patrick Wardle:

Apple consciously (& greedily) made the decision to be the arbiter/gatekeeper of what can run on our iOS devices…which directly empowers governments to ban whatever apps they so choose[…]

Update (2024-04-26): See also: Jon Brodkin.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

These apps have been long gone for years, from the Chinese App Store.

Practically speaking though downloading these apps on iOS is imo easier than on Android in some way. You can use a Chinese phone number to sign up for a U.S. App Store account, and it is not even blocked by the GFW.

I don’t know if it’s intentionally easy, and yes it’s a single point of failure and Apple could easily make it a bit harder, most of us will be screwed.

Or Apple could, well, you know, allow side loading and most of these problems go away.

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