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AirDrop is now limited to 10 minutes (twitter.com/tibor)
959 points by doener on Nov 28, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 697 comments

This seems to have been announced a couple of weeks ago, so we don't need to just trust the tweet: https://www.macworld.com/article/1377200/apple-to-limit-aird...

Having it open to everyone for only a limited amount of time actually kind of seems like the right thing, but it's hard to come up with a legit explanation for why they rushed that change to China first.

The timing of the change seems quite conspicuous [1], and it's also weird that Apple would introduce this in China first and only roll it out to the rest of the world next year. The same article mentions that Apple blocks the Taiwanese flag emoji in China, for which it's hard to come up with an explanation other than bowing to censorship.

1: https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2022/11/netizen-voices-apple-r...

Apple certainly tailors the emojis available to the local political climate.

They don't, for instance, have the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, instead using the flag of the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

That would be because IRA remains the sole government of Afghanistan recognized by relevant agencies such as UN. Which companies generally defer to when they came, because it cuts down on a lot of individual political decisions they'd have to make otherwise.

Yandex is an interesting showcase of how bad this can get - they literally dropped country borders from their maps last year "for better user experience". And I don't mean just lines that you normally see while browsing the map, but even when you ask for it deliberately. For example, if you look up a city, you get its territory highlighted on the map - but that's not the case for countries, it just puts a marker "somewhere in the middle".

They also removed administrative regional boundaries without announcing that change - probably because looking up regions at the border would have to include a part of said border into the displayed boundary, making it discoverable.

Google Maps also does this when the border is under contention. Selecting a country with a contested border like Ukraine or Russia will only highlight the country name, but selecting a country with uncontested borders like Poland or Germany will draw a red outline around the country.

Nitpick: technically, the border between Germany and the Netherlands is semi-contested. The countries agreed to disagree about its exact location. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany–Netherlands_border#D...:

“The maritime border is disputed in a part of the Ems estuary outside the Dollart bay, where Germany has the view that the state border runs on the left bank of the Ems, while the Netherlands regards the Thalweg as its border.


In 2014 the two nations' foreign ministers met to put an end to the dispute. It was decided that the border should remain ambiguous and responsibility for the region in question shared”

More info (in German) at https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsch-Niederländische_Grenzf....

I heard Google also alters the drawn borders based on your IP (if you're in one with a contested border)

Mapmakers have been doing this one for centuries. Contested borders often do not appear.

> That would be because IRA remains the sole government of Afghanistan recognized by relevant agencies such as UN. Which companies generally defer to when they came, because it cuts down on a lot of individual political decisions they'd have to make otherwise.

How does that standard apply to Taiwan?

In mainland China they don't support the Taiwanese flag emoji, presumably because that's the only country that would care or want to censor it.

Perhaps Yandex maps could be perceived as representing an ideal future devoid of essentially arbitrary political boundaries and silly notions of citizenship.

No matter how much you want such an utopia where everyone gets along, that is not the reality we are living in. Instead, borders are real and which country a particular location in matters in many contexts that involve looking at a map.

Truth. And it's not just apple, on android we (U.S.) get a "water gun" for gun and no emoji shows up when you search for rifle.

The gun emoji became a toy on all major platforms everywhere several years ago.

This is surely related to the political climate but I believe the entities involved applied that change worldwide.

It became a toy because Apple unilaterally changed it, and then everyone had to follow because it would otherwise lead to things like this: https://blog.emojipedia.org/content/images/2016/08/emojipedi...

It was a unilateral Apple decision. Other platforms were forced to follow them over the next few years to avoid situations like kids texting each other "Can't want for our class trip to the water park tomorrow <insert squirt gun or real gun depending on font>"

Apple made that change around the same time as the Rio Olympics. In the leadup to the Olympics, there was a push to create an emoji for every event. Unicode 9 added emojis for handball, wrestling, water polo, fencing, etc.

However the almost comprehensive set still had some gaps, because Apple veto'd the marksmanship/air rifle and pentathlon emojis... but not in time to prevent the creation of the corresponding unicode glyphs

I found a summary on what motivated the change, I don't know how accurate that is, but sounds legit https://youtu.be/7SBJr3Zfgl8 - Why Apple removed the gun emoji

Well, yeah, US companies are more than happy to export the US political climate as long as it doesn't directly conflict with local laws.

I would love to learn more about backroom emoji politics. It sounds foolish on the surface but emojis have a big reach.

Here's some folks taking emojis very seriously. Including the poop emoji face. It's a good read - https://www.unicode.org/L2/L2017/17393-wg2-emoji-feedback.pd... (pdf)

This is a really good doc on it


I can still see the Iran flag in all of its unaltered glory here in the US. I guess they missed the memo?

Afghanistan =/= Iran

The parent poster was referring to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Afghanistan


Not everybody knows everything. Would you be so kind to share what's up with the Iranian flag? It's seems interesting. I happen to not know much about it and I love when people bring up some interesting curiosities here (sometimes unfortunately obscured by sarcasm or other convolutions)

The Iranian protestors have brought back the old flag, featuring the lion and the sun at center, and often make shows of removing the Islamic State’s symbol from the center of the current “official” flag (the word Allah in Persian calligraphy).

The U.S. Soccer Federation tweeted about Iran, intentionally using a pre-Islamic-Revolution version of the country's flag. (Or, one might imagine, what it hoped will be the post-Islamic-Revolution version.)

It was front page shit for two days, sorry. I think others explained it well enough but I still insist that it was perfectly relevant.

I can only assume that this is a 3rd rail of sorts for “Western” types who seem to be 100% anti-Iran lately, even though I remember about half a decade ago the same sorts of people were pro-Iran when it came to giving back their money that would eventually be used to fund terrorism, but would love to take Russia’s money for doing the same thing.

Never forget that Biden fistbumped MbS.

Iran and Afghanistan are different countries.


Here's a podcast interviewing someone who created an emoji

Bowing to censorship? Bowing isn't necessarily done happily.

Or maybe more ideas are also in play? Perhaps recognizing the existing power dynamics? Perhaps playing the game over a longer time frame?

Not all ethicists recommend "dying on your sword" so to speak. Sometimes it is useful to maintain influence and fight another day. These things are far from simple.

If you want Apple to push back on censorship in China, let's talk about the details. What would China likely do in return?

Remember how Tim Cook’s Apple handled HKmap.live¹, Telegram², and the Navalny app³. Maybe you shouldn’t fight every battle, but he fights none. The richest company in the world has at the helm a person who quotes Martin Luther King Jr on the importance of doing something for others⁴ yet he always kowtows to authoritarian regimes. He’s in a stronger position than most people in the world to make a stand but he never does. At a certain point he’s out of excuses. He fights for money, nothing more.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HKmap.live

² https://www.iphoneincanada.ca/news/apple-telegram-belarus/

³ https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/google-apple-remove-nav...

⁴ Check the bio: https://twitter.com/tim_cook

> Maybe you shouldn’t fight every battle, but he fights none.

All we know is what has been reported.

It would seem improbable what a multi trillion dollar company with it's manufacturing base in China wouldn't be dealing and negotiating with the Chinese authorities as part of day to day operations.

To say Tim Cook fights no battles seems unlikely. We cannot make that statement because the reality is that we just don't know what goes on behind closed doors!

If you can point to a positive change that Apple have made, in this regard, under Cook's watch, then your argument has some merit.

If you can't then you'll have to rely on the "it would've been worse but for his efforts" but I doubt you're going to provide evidence for that.

What we do know is that Apple have repeatedly sided with censorship, I can certainly provide evidence of that.

Apple very publicly refused to unlock the phones of the San Berbardino shooters, and consistently refuses to back door their phones for law enforcement.


In a country with strong rule of law, where it's quite clear where the legality of this rests, and where they had almost nothing to lose by refusing to unlock the phone.

Yet icloud is dencrypted in China as soon as that's what the authorities want.

Standing up for things doesn't really mean much when you have nothing to lose. It's like the world cup players talking about LGBT rights and then stopping it as soon as they are threatened with yellow cards. That's boring cowardly virtue signalling, it's not standing up for something regardless of consequences.

Perhaps he dresses up as Batman and fights crime at night, I mean, who can say?

So basically your counterargument is a variation of the Conspiracy Fallacy. "The good actors are hiding the evidence for their goodness!"

(Or perhaps, that was your point!)

I think it's more that Tim Cook, and Apple, are innocent until proven guilty.

They are not 'hiding' anything, which implies they have more to hide.

Apple are a secretive company that does not tend to discuss their internal politics and supplier arrangements.

The internet could argue about this all day long, but my point stands that we just don't know!

But I get your point as well. Maybe I'm feeling generous towards Apple!

I'm not normally a fan of Mr Tim Cook! :-)

You know what? You've made a good point, and I'm now a little less positive on Apple and a little more critical of Spineless Tim Cook.

Considering that China has the ultimate power over apple with Foxconn manufacturing their device in China. Apple makes a lot of money because of China, China can have a lot of influence over Apple. I'm not pro-China, pro-America, pro-anything, just stating this fact.

Foxconn does assembly and that is not a big cost of an iphone [0]. Like literally just a fraction compared to American IP, Taiwan CPUs, or Japanese cameras and the latter are all much harder to move compared to assembly.

[0]: https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/apple-iphone-7-and-...

Whatever the case is, Apple took their sweet time making changes. Microsoft, Google and even Facebook pulled out of China years ago, and Apple is acting like a storied history of human rights abuses is news to them.

> [...], Google and even [...] pulled out of China years ago

Wasn't the Pixel 6 assembled by Foxconn? And the upcoming Pixel 7 / foldables apparently also going to be assembled by Foxconn? That's not pulling out...

[edit to clarify we're only talking about Google]

Foxconn isn’t even a Chinese company (unless you’re a “one China” person). They’ve been doing the assembly on the mainland and they have had to relocate a few times to keep labor costs low. The writing is on the wall for iPhone assembly in China and has been for some time.

Hopefully, they (the CCP) will collapse.

Hmm, I see this sentiment often, but I am not entirely certain people go through it beyond the initial 'feels good' analysis. If there is one thing that US population probably should be aware of, it is that succeeding regime will not automatically be to one's advantage ( devil known kinda deal ). Say what you want about old age, but it does force you to recognize certain level of stability as desirable.

Taiwan made the transition to democracy. No reason why the mainlanders can't.

They could make that transition, of course. But look at all the countries that somehow got rid of dictators in this century. How many of those turned into stable, free, and democratic societies? Afghanistan? Iraq? Egypt? Lybia?

If you add ten more years, did it work out for Russia? Belarus? Ukraine? It did work out for Poland, Latvia and some others. But getting rid of an oppressive regime is the easy part of transforming an autocracy into democracy.

Take a look at Eastern Europe. Many countries were either directly or indirectly under the Soviet thumb, and dare I say, they are much better off now that they can rule themselves independently. At least any mess they make is of their own making, rather than centrally imposed.

I guess what parent is saying that for every Poland, we seem to have an Afghanistan ( the odds of favorable outcome are hit or miss ). One would hope people in charge in US are actually studying the whys behind the failures and successes, because even without access to privileged information one could infer some reasons for both. I would especially like to hope that we learn from our mistakes ( as those tend to result in much greater level of misery for all ; in the event of success everyone is just patting themselves on the back ).

If they do, it won’t be because of Apple.

> Perhaps recognizing the existing power dynamics?

by "power dynamics", do you mean lies propagated by the CCP?

> Perhaps playing the game over a longer time frame?

Apple isn't a government. What do you mean here exactly? Money? That propagating lies for money is a legitimate way of doing business?


Parent is likely referring to Apple's position in the market[1], where their profit - not revenue - alone ( 141b in 2021 ) dwarfs many nations' GDP[2] in the world.

I would not call it a lie.

[1]https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/AAPL/apple/gross-p... [2]https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?most_rec...

it's hard to come up with an explanation other than bowing to censorship

If one believes Elon Musk's view of the Twitter situation with the app store, Apple seems to be for more censorship!


It’s safe to ignore him indefinitely

You know what actually makes sense? Creating a setting that the user can change as they see fit.

Customization? On an Apple device? Are you out of your mind?

I recognise the current truth of this, but I feel a deep wave of sadness as I remember that the computer to have in the 90s if you wanted to customise evvvvvvery little thing was a Mac. A ton of custom aspects were available right in the base system, plus of course a seemingly infinite array of inits and cdevs to tweak things, and finally you could resort to ResEdit to modify anything by hand. Apple fell so far in the 2000s and especially the 2010s from that ideal.

"10 minutes ought to be enough for anybody."

“10 minutes just works”

Have you looked at how much stuff there is under Settings on a recent version of iOS? Admittedly it's not the Windows Registry, but...

Sadly it's missing a few things that would be really nice, like being able to turn off the %*(% home bar.

What's the beef with the home bar? Seems pretty innocent?

Because I absolutey do not need it, and it's infuriating to have a high contrast item in view when using a dark app (Like, say, a video player...)

There is an API for developers to use to signal that a view should hide the home indicator [1]. It doesn't guarantee that it will be hidden (the user may have accessibility or other options enabled which take precedence and prefer to display it)

When playing fullscreen video on my phone, I do not see the home indicator, as it hides after a short delay due to most developers adopting this API. Just tested in VLC and the home indicator is hidden after about 3 seconds of fullscreen video playback

[1] https://developer.apple.com/documentation/uikit/uiviewcontro...

It’s much more problematic on iPad Pro, since lots of devs don’t have one. It’s also geometrically larger, especially in landscape.

Getting app developers to fix it is a very mixed bag. One app I use a lot (F1 TV) had had this issue forever, and many many many people have complained to F1 Media about it. They don’t care, apparently, and that’s a high end app that costs upwards of $80/yr

Also, erm, Safari. I was actually complaining about this (with a screenshot) just yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/context?id=33770571

As stated in my sibling[0] to your comment, the developer may have limited ability to fix it, since its a preference the system will often override. That said, its literally a one line change to implement it (for each view controller class), so there is little reason for them not to put it in, even with its limited effectiveness.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33781895

This is not the behaviour I am seeing as I compile to my iOS devices right now. The home indicator is consistently hidden on view controllers which adopt this preference, but will reappear whenever a user interacts with the application, only to hide again after a few seconds.

I agree that it can be annoying if the developer of an app does not adopt the correct behaviours. But in the case of Safari we should not be allowing web developers to hide persistent OS UI elements. The better solution to your screenshot, I think, is to design with safe areas[1] in mind so that the overlap does not occur and persistent OS UI remains accessible.

[1] https://webkit.org/blog/7929/designing-websites-for-iphone-x...

But why on earth does it NEED to be persistent?

It’s instinctual behavior.

Like imagine if a desktop pc had 3 dime sized dots on the bottom of the screen to remind you a mouse has 3 buttons.

It’s noise, not signal.

It wasn't instinctual when iOS introduced the swipe up to close apps in 2018?

It's also a clear indication that you can swipe up to go home. If the indicator is invisible, you cannot swipe up. You need to interact with the app to make the indicator appear (eg. tap the screen). I appreciate the visual indicator and that it can be disabled when there is full screen content

False. Swiping up in the YouTube app with the bar hidden goes home just fine.

You're right. I confused two APIs, there is also `defersSystemGestures(on: edges)` which allows an app to prevent a swipe to go home initially. A lot of fullscreen apps do this so I thought it was the same API

> It doesn't guarantee that it will be hidden (the user may have accessibility or other options enabled which take precedence and prefer to display it)

In my experience as an iOS developer using this API, the only time the preference to hide the home indicator is respected is in the case you mentioned, when a full screen video is playing. Otherwise the home indicator always appears whenever the user stops interacting with the screen. So the GP is correct that there is no user control to make it hidden, and not really any developer control either.

It consistently hides the home indicator in my experience.

I just compiled two of my apps with `prefersHomeIndicatorAutoHidden` set to true. This resulted in the home indicator disappearing after a second or two on the view controllers where it was configured. Neither of the apps were video apps.

The home indicator does come back if you interact with the screen. Tap the screen and it will appear briefly, before disappearing again.

Yes, I have seen. Most of them barely do anything worthwhile. It’s like publishing an entire book in title sized fonts.

> Windows Registry

That's a term I haven't heard in years. I wonder if anyone still remembers the literal thousands of settings that were possible to change and all the "tweaking" programs that were made for it.

Google gpedit.msc if you really want your mind blown.

Both are still around.

But options are so complicated and boring. Can I just pay you to pick the best one for me?

Yes, that's called having a default, and it's a good thing. An even better thing is to let someone change it afterwards, if they want to.

Pay apple, multiple recurring subscriptions to do what they want you to do. This is always the answer.

I want to play this spotify track through my appleTV. A. No, you can't, it doesn't work without rebooting the appleTV, which will work but only until you pause the music. A: "You can pay for an apple music sub."

I want enough space on my phone. A: No. You Can't. We're taking that for OS stuff to sell you things you don't want. A: "Buy a new phone with more storage and a vastly inflated flash price." Or A: "You can pay apple a sub to have your private files hackable and released as "the fappening" like happened to Jennifer Lawrence." You'll have to take steps to avoid this if you are able which you might no be, ha!

I don't want any of my private files from my phone or my computer on someone else's computer. Have you tried using apple without paying for their backup service? You probably did manage, do a survey of your friends to see how they went.

I want to use firefox with uBlock origin (or whatever) on my phone. No, you can't. I'm sure there's a way to pay apple for something to do something I don't want here. Chime in with it.

I want to run Kodi on my appleTV to be able to watch my DVD library that I own, using the device that I own plugged into the tv that I own. A: "No. You can't. You can pay apple a sub for appleTV the app which entitles you to pay again for anything you actually want to watch that you already own."

The answer is always pay apple more money and probably a recurring payment. Always. And by design. They pay economists to optimise the models to make it happen.

I want to pay Mary for her app. A: "No you can't, you can pay apple and apple can tax Mary 30% of her gross revenue for a service you can't opt out of.

You pay apple to be their product. The market power is utterly phenomenal. The answer is always pay Apple more money.

That would be nice, right?

Unfortunately, <queue some made up story from Apple's PR team about how some soldier's lives were saved by limiting AirDrop time to exactly 10 minutes>.

Perhaps that didn't receive approval from a higher power.

To be fair: (1) it seems like the update landed recently, and (2) the article you linked does cite the same reasoning as the Twitter posts. Even if was a little ahead of the more recent Zero Covid protests, it seems like AirDrop's been a known vector in China to share government criticism, which is why Apple's cracking down.

> which is why Apple's cracking down.

This is absurd. Apple is doing this because of government pressure, not because of their own desire to crack down.

Apple is literally the group implementing the change, it's accurate to say "Apple is cracking down".

You're trying to paint Apple as a helpless victim here, but they didn't get blindsided by CCP tyranny. The company has spent years developing this exact situation and repeatedly choose to do the bidding of the Chinese government.

"Just following orders" is a pitiful excuse, and even worse when the orders are coming from an oppressive foreign government.

> Apple is literally the group implementing the change, it's accurate to say "Apple is cracking down".

I think it would be more accurate to say that the CCP is cracking down, and Apple is one target of that push.

I don't think it's completely accurate to say that Apple can "choose" these things. There's no "choosing" with the CCP, and there's no "choosing" to manufacture outside of China, at this point [1]. This isn't an Apple problem, it's a worldwide supply chain problem, that all tech companies are stuck in [2].

They're choosing to continue business in China. They're choosing to continue to manufacture in China. Like everyone else, they're choosing to leave China, with manufacturing being pushed to India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and S.Korea. But, in the short term, there's exactly one choice, for both, for them and the rest of the tech sector, that keeps the bills paid. This is a systemic problem, not an Apple problem. It's good to see the world is, finally, waking up to this, beginning the transition, and I think the beginnings of the transition should be celebrated.

1. https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/28/tech/apple-china-manufacturin...

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timbajarin/2022/08/30/shifting-...

Google is successfully ignored China's request even though their Pixel uses many Chinese parts and some are made in China, because they don't service in China.

> Google is successfully ignored China's request

Which request? Android's version of AirDrop, "Nearby Share" is disabled in China [1].

> even though their Pixel uses many Chinese parts and some are made in China, because they don't service in China.

Google is an ad company. Only 5 million Pixel 6 sold in the first 6 months [2]. It's just a few percent of their income. Nobody would notice if they decide to stop selling the Pixel line, worldwide.

Apple is a hardware company, with around 50% of their income from iPhones [3]. It's a very different context. Again, they appear to building speed to move out, and like the previous reference shows, that's all any of these established companies can do in the short term: build speed.

1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/72812112/android-nearby-...

2. https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/android/274544/pixel-smartph...

3. https://fourweekmba.com/apple-revenue-breakdown/

Apple could move out, but at great cost to themselves. Being a socialist, I think the cost of such a decision should come from the government who should mandate it for all companies so there is a single national standard on ethics.

However some people think that Apple should bear the cost in its own, since it’s the not an existential choice. It’s simply the choice between taking a loss this year then recovering later, or continuing to make the maximal amount of money this year.

> the government who should mandate it for all companies so there is a single national standard on ethics.

I think I agree with this. What could you see that mandate looking like, and what would the "standard" be? Would it be something stronger than the sanctions we have now? As my previous links show, complete isolation is impossible, in the short term, so I imagine this would have to be a slow process.

> It’s simply the choice between taking a loss this year then recovering later, or continuing to make the maximal amount of money this year.

I would suggest reading the references I provided. This definitely isn't a "loss this year" thing. It's losses for decades. It not only requires rebuilding direct vendors, but vendors that supply to them, and to them, and so on.

What is the alternative? Apple exits the country and we use.. android? Is that a better, more privacy-respecting, government-order-rejecting alternative?

Edit: The alternative is Apple doesn't comply w/ government orders and leaves the country. That is the alternative.

You're both saying the same thing.

Nope. They were taking about Apple cracking down. That’s not the same as being forced to make a software change at the governments demand.

Whatever "Apple's" feelings (really, the executive team's; a corporation does not have feelings) about it, Apple is the entity that made the change.

And it is a weird kind of "force" they face. Apple, over the course of decades, has willingly made a huge investment in a state with an authoritarian government in order to pursue their goals. They did this knowing full-well that China's suppression apparatus would take great interest in Apple's pocket bugs, and that China shows little hesitation about using their leverage. Apple knew they would be asked to make these sorts of concessions. There's no chance they didn't think this over.

So when people say they "Apple doesn't have a choice", what they mean is Apple made the choice some time back.

Surely it depends on the extent to which Apple was indeed forced to make the change. You wouldn't say "convicted murderer imprisons himself."

> has willingly made a huge investment

This is the part you're wrong about: Apple, like any public corporation with effectively-zero internal controlling-share ownership, is constitutionally incapable of doing things that would make its share price drop; and is constitutionally compelled to do things that make its share price rise. Any CEO who attempts to do anything "against" the share price is fired by the board (which consists of external shareholders, not idealists) and replaced by a CEO who will serve the share-price god.

"Things that make Apple's share price rise" include "entering the Chinese market", "committing to the Chinese market", and "doing whatever customization to their products is required to stay in the Chinese market."

Which is all to say: Apple never made a choice. Free-market capitalism made this choice. If individual Apple employees don't like "the market" being their true boss, they're free to leave and work instead for a private company, or an internally majority-owned company, or a non-profit, or a B Corp. But Apple itself — the aggregate emergent behavior of the organizational entity — is not free to do anything, any more than a train is free to drive off of its rails.

This is the most wrong, reductionist take on Ford v. Dodge. Companies make decisions all the time that aren’t exactly what shareholders focused on quarterly results want. The quintessential examples are Costco and Amazon. The former pays associates above market wages and benefits, the latter had losses or broke even for years by investing for the long term.

This isn't about Ford v. Dodge. I said nothing about legal compulsion. This is about the "realpolitik" of operating a publicly-traded company.


1. The market has an ability to "lose faith in" an equity, and do a mass sell-off of that equity, destroying/bankrupting the company — see e.g. what almost happened with British bonds a few months ago. Essentially, an uncoordinated boycott, as a result of a suddenly different output to a Keynesian beauty-contest (i.e. everyone thinks that a sufficient number of other people will sell based on the news to trigger a collapse of the price; so they have to sell first.)

2. In companies owned by majority-external shareholders — especially when those shareholders are market-makers (as is true in Apple's case: https://money.cnn.com/quote/shareholders/shareholders.html?s...) — the board is very well aware of #1, and so hires/fires the CEO based in part on whether they will avoid actions that will result in the market "losing faith" in the company. (How do they know? Because those market-makers are the ones who would, in aggregate, do most such selling-off!)

That's what I mean by "Apple is constitutionally incapable of doing X" — not that they'd face some sort of corporate malfeasance suit if they did (who even cares?) but that any CEO hired by a public corporation is operating under a dagger of Damocles that they know will fall the moment they do anything to lose the public's faith in their company's stock.

Costco paying above-market, and Amazon not putting out any dividends, are not actions that result in mass sell-offs — especially because they're things the companies have done from the start (so if anyone got in on these companies in the first place, they got in knowing that these are things these companies do.)

Apple exiting China is the opposite: a stark, sudden shift in strategy, in a direction the self-interested parts of the global(!) market wouldn't care for. (Emphasis because mutual funds et al have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, and those shareholders aren't just American, but all over the world — including China!)

That doesn't make it better, though. Plenty of companies have decided not to do business in China on ethical grounds. Hell, even Google pulled out of China way back when, a company I certainly don't think all that highly of.

Yes, not doing business in China means less revenue, and unhappy shareholders. This is why capitalism sucks: it more or less requires companies do unethical things, when not doing those things means much less money.

IMO it does. I would rather have a generally good product with concessions as opposed to no product at all. If apple, google, everyone exits out of protest, what is left? Chinese-developed tech that is 100,000% susceptible to the same government orders. At least with apple they know what they're getting.

I know it’s in vogue to blame capitalism, like our economic system is a faceless AI that decides things in a perfectly efficient market (It’s not).

Behind the curtain there are humans making decisions. They may be hedge funds, investors, board members, etc. There are humans that deliberately want to do business with China and know exactly what is happening with those workers. It wasn’t capitalism that outsourced iPhone production to a sweat shop, it was a group of real people who are morally bankrupt.

Capitalism is blamed because it is the system that lets those morally bankrupt people get rich of those decisions without any real consequences.

As opposed to socialism and communism where morally bankrupt leaders are unable to get rich off their decisions with no consequences?

Power and corruption are ubiquitous in every system.

Wait what? How can you claim that capitalism requires a company do unethical things while in the same comment giving an example of a company that chose not to do an unethical things?


They were just making a housing change at the government's demand.

Because "genocide" is such a distasteful word.

They may not desire to crack down, but they desire to crack down to preserve profits, which means they still end up desiring to crack down.

Sure, I didn't mean this in the "this is old news" sense, but in the "this has been verified by Apple themselves, not just a random Twitter account".

That's interesting that this was rolled out a few weeks ago, however the article also says:

> Apple won’t admit why this change is being made in China, but the peer-to-peer nature of AirDrop has made it popular for spreading anti-government protest material, and hopping into your settings every 10 minutes to re-enable the ability to receive AirDrop from strangers makes it a lot less useful for that.

Looking at it from a users perspective, people constantly trying to airdrop me stuff is not something I want, even though I want to use “everyone” at times. I’ve had this happen in public before and it’s annoying but maybe it’s become so widespread that it’s a UX issue in China?

The fix for your use case is an easy to enable "next hour/ten minutes/whatever" from the control center buttons.

Then it can be default "contacts only" and you can turn to everyone with a single press, and it turns itself back off.

you're thinking differently, don't expect any apple job offers.


It was brought in because of protests in mainland China. Just not because of the current ones, but previous ones.

> hard to come up with a legit explanation for why they rushed that change to China first.

Not hard at all.

On Oct 13, 2022 this protest happened (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Sitong_Bridge_protest), which the CCP considered a serious offense, potentially on the same level of the 1989 protest.

At the time people, especially college students around that area (lots of universities nearby), were using AirDrop to share photos of the protest, because social medium was heavily censored. University administrators were tasked to make sure iPhone-carrying students to disable allowing AirDrop from everyone to stop the spread of the images.

A few weeks later, iOS public betas were found to come with the change to limiting AirDrop to 10 minutes, and nothing about it was ever mentioned in release note.

Was Apple pressured by the CCP to rush this? I don't know. Look at the evidence and judge by yourself.

But there's a more nuanced perspective.

It is rumored that CCP has the ability to actually track and uncover the identity of iOS devices sending AirDrop. Think about it: how else AirDrop can limit to receive from contacts only? If so, AirDrop would provide a false sense of anonymity and deniability, and Apple would put some of its customers in jeopardy if they do nothing.

By limiting AirDrop from everyone to 10 minutes, Apple achieved three objectives:

1. They showed compliance (they have to, if they want to keep the business in China); 2. They avoided the potential reputation damage in the scenario where protesters are caught AirDropping offensive materials (e.g. “iPhones aren't as secure as Apple advertises after all”); 3. They closed a loophole in which people get spammed (yes, allowing AirDrop from everyone gets you mostly spams anyway).

The “mistake” Apple made was that it did not a) rush the change to all regions, and b) mention it explicitly in release note, therefore completely exposed them to the first objective and failed to convey the nuances.

Why does it seem "the right thing"? I mean, it's pretty stupid to actually keep it open for everyone forever, but if I want that (and I don't know why it was even an option, but I assume somebody wants that) — that's my business, it doesn't hurt anyone. Also, limiting it to 10 minutes doesn't help, since I just can keep turning it on and on it seems.

Adding one more option could make some sense, but it's weird anyways. Why arbitrary 10 minutes? How turning it for 10 minutes in a crowded place is better than turning it on for an hour? It's silly.

A setting with 10 minutes default would be reasonable change for users sake, in case they forget to turn it off.

Force 10 minutes with no optoon to turn it back? Yeah...

> but it's hard to come up with a legit explanation for why they rushed that change to China first.

The China told them to and they complied. They have every interest in China's government keeping their people in check so the Apple factory production continues without problems.

Follow the money and all that

It's because recently there's report on the internet that some people are receiving nude photos from random guys over AirDrop (*on subways), and the fact that sexual harassment charges in China are pressed rather weakly.

The AirDrop spam has been a headache in China for sometime: https://www.pingwest.com/a/256995

Of course the zero-covid protests were also around a couple weeks ago..

But it wasn’t until today that Musk decide to start a propaganda war against Apple.

Which was very foolish given he's already in a propaganda war with most of the news media and an entire political movement.

It wasn't until Apple (apparently) threatened to withdraw Twitter from the app store.


>So you agree with me that this is propaganda by Musk.

I neither agree or disagree as I'm in no position to know if Musk if lying about Apple's threats. I trust Musk exactly as much as I trust Apple or any other big corporation - not at all. However, as an older person who remembers the Microsoft/Netscape episode, I do believe that companies with massive market shares like Apple should be prevented from using their monopolistic power to shut out competitors. This isn't limited to tech (a perfect example being Ticketmaster).


I know airdrop was pretty big in U.S. protests in summer 2020, and reportedly in Hong Kong as well.

Obviously not very helpful for pre-planning an event, but good to change plans in the moment.

In US iPhone has something like 50% market share, while in China is 10% if I’m not wrong.

See this article from November 10th, from the China Digital Times, a news website which is considered trustworthy.


so the title of this post is incorrect, this setting was not enabled due to the protests

I legitimately don't understand how this has been spun into some sort of pro-censorship move. Leaving your phone open to getting AirDrop-ed by anyone in the vicinity just seems like a terrible idea in general, but especially in China. Apple is helping the authoritarian dictatorship by checks notes not having your phone advertise to everyone nearby that it can receive files from anyone?

The ability for dissidents to airdrop messages to passers-by seems silly as well. All of a sudden spamming people is good due to the content of the message? Never mind that there's nothing stopping the other side from doing the same thing.

It ultimately feels to me like the country that's always in the news for hackers and ubiquitous surveillance should be the last place in the world you want to have AirDrop on, period. Even the contacts-only mode has leaked personal information in the past.

Because people sending dick pics and spam had been a known issue for ages, yet this change came soon after China complaining about people sending protest flyers, rolled out in China first, and with no option to leave your phone open. One can argue whether it's Apple's job to fight censorship (and I might agree that it's not), but you have to willfully blind say this is not pro-censorship.

I agree with all of your points. To me this seems like correcting an oversight in Apple’s original implementation vs Apple taking away a ‘feature’.

I’ve gotten AirDrop spam here in America and welcome this change.

You've always been able to change AirDrop to contacts only. This "feature" just makes it harder to send AirDrops to people who want to receive them.

Assuming that anyone with airdrop set to everyone wants to receive your files is just wrong

What else would be the interpretation of the "Everything" setting, especially at a large gathering like a protest?

Also, it's not like they just receive the file without consent, last I used an iPhone there was a popup allowing the other user to accept/decline the file.

So it's less like "anyone with airdop set to everyone wants to receive your file" and more like "anyone with airdop set to everyone wants to be asked if they want to receive your file".

The usage in HK that everyone keeps citing was as a way to spam incoming Mainland tourists' phones with protest flyers. Like okay, you might agree with the content in this case, but it can (and has) easily be dick pics instead.

By your logic Apple's default setting of "contacts only" AirDrop visibility is also a nefarious way to prevent protest literature from being distributed

> The usage in HK that everyone keeps citing was as a way to spam incoming Mainland tourists' phones with protest flyers. Like okay, you might agree with the content in this case, but it can (and has) easily be dick pics instead.

It's entirely possible it's misleading, but the tweet in this post pretty heavily implies it was from protester to protester, you're the one who brought up the "spamming tourists" thing.

Also, I'm not even sure I agree with the "a tool can be used for evil so therefore taking features away is good". Anyone can email you a dick pick, does that mean email provides should stop accepting images in emails that aren't from contacts (with no option to disable this filtering, except in 10 minute increments)?

> By your logic Apple's default setting of "contacts only" AirDrop visibility is also a nefarious way to prevent protest literature from being distributed

Context matters. If the default used to be everyone, and Apple pushed out a new default to users in China immediately around when protests, then yes I would say it was nefarious.

"Thing A is happening" isn't proof for "Thing B isn't happening". Also, you missed the rest of my comment.

What's really the problem here is that they take it away without choice.

There's nothing you can do to keep it working as it did, due to iOS being so incredibly locked down. Because this has been used as a free-speech feature whether you like it or not, this makes it a very questionable thing to do whether it was done for good causes or bad.

All they would have needed to do was to introduce a new 10 minute option along with the other existing options, and leave the forever option available for those who wanted to keep it and didn't care about spam.

Removing ‘always everyone’ as an option only in China means you are probably wrong.

They can easily add a ‘temporary everyone’ button for people that want to use that.

I have always had mine set to “Everyone”. I have been amused by some of the files (photos, mostly) I have received. I hope I continue to have the option to leave it open.

For context: AirDrop was one of the only ways protesters had to communicate en-masse.

Signal is unsafe for Chinese protesters, since it requires SMS verification upon signup and is therefore linked to your identity.[0] Mesh networks are the only real solution there, and AirDrop is about the only mainstream one. AirDrop has been used by Asian protesters for years.[1] I highly recomment you read the full China Digital Times article, which gives excellent context, and lets these protesters explain the value of AirDrop in their own words.[1]

Apple's timing is unmistakeably suspicious; keep in mind that there have been protests for weeks, which preceded the iOS update.

It must also be pointed out that Apple issued an official statement to Western media outlets that the goal was to prevent spam.[2] At no point did Apple ever admit that this was done to follow any government demand. It's unknown whether Apple could be under a Chinese gag-order, but we shouldn't speculate that it's the case unless experts say it's likely. If Apple is complying with a Chinese government orders, then it has an ethical duty to make that public, and again, we have, as of yet, no reason to assume there are gag orders related to this. Apple deserves criticism for the update, and for trying to hide its true purpose.

[0]: https://twitter.com/RealSexyCyborg/status/159707255662827929...

[1]: https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2022/11/netizen-voices-apple-r...

[2]: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-11-10/apple-lim...

Note: AirDrop is unsafe for broadcasting message anonymously. It will also broadcast your hashed phone number and email[1], which can be reversed by rainbow table.

[1]: https://privatedrop.github.io/

True, but invalidated by burner and jailbroken phones which are widespread in China. They can definitely catch somebody with a concerted effort but I'd be surprised if the average Chinese teenager couldnt figure out how to make a burner email

I think the problem is the majority of people don't know that airdrop isn't actually anonymous, sure there are workarounds but it doesn't matter if 99% of users don't follow them.

People in China have burner Apple phones? That sounds kind of crazy. Even if jailbroken I doubt they are mitigating for this.

There are markets in China where you can buy all the parts super cheap and build your own iPhone. It's like nothing you'd ever see in the western world. Hundreds of stalls all selling an individual specific selection of phone components, and if you ask for something they don't have, they'll recommend their friend's stall to you.

Apple have sold billions of iPhones. All those second hand "recycled" parts go somewhere.

That sounds like an incredible place to visit

Devil's advocate: If you already don't worry about exposing this info then why not just use Telegram or Signal?

Because AirDrop only exposes the info of the sending phone, not the receiving phone.

An iphone can be bought and emails can be registered without doxing yourself, so this info isn't strongly tied to your identity the same way a phone number is.

Signal can't be used at all in China anyway since the verification texts are blocked. I've tried contacting Signal support about this (I live in China and want to use Signal) but as soon as I tell them I love in China and have a Chinese phone number they stop replying :)

To be fair, it's the only real solution anywhere, and it's just us who is playing dumb and pretending SMS verification is absolutely fine and totally acceptable for a "secure messenger" in our free and happy democratic society. Jesus, the level of absurdity here...

> ethical duty to make that public

There are gag orders in the US and UK too, which companies have to follow or they are breaking the law. Are they unethical too?

Or do you mean, it is unethical for apple to not tell Americans what the Chinese government has asked them to do within China, to Chinese citizens, in order to benefit from being legally in good standing and able to continue to do commerce within China?

If so, then is it unethical for them to follow US gag orders and not tell the Chinese public?

Please read the full sentence.

> If Apple is complying with a Chinese government orders, then it has an ethical duty to make that public, and again, we have, as of yet, no reason to assume there are gag orders related to this.

I am saying that if there's no gag order, they have an ethical duty to reveal why they're doing this.

Oh, I see. This makes even less sense to me now!

Considering we live in a world of constantly updating SaaS, where is the ethical obligation to explain changes?

I'm happy to receive a change log that says 10% of what has changed, and generally expect to not get a reason.

How many entire products has Google killed with no explanation?

I have a feeling this is only become a question of "ethics" because this change tangentially touches protests & CCP.

It's not "tangential". It was only rolled out in China. My phone outside of China, with latest iOS update, still has no time limit on Airdrop. Protesters in China as of now have a time limit. (It depends on the country in which the phone was purchased, like with missing Taiwan flag emoji.)

These pro-freedom protests are the event in China and there is simply no way Apple flipped this change just now just for China by accident for completely unrelated reasons.

I have to admit that when you actually look at the details this is a rather perplexing change. Ditto for reading the comments here.

Is Apple being Pro-CCP with this change? If you open airdrop to everyone, your device can be tracked and identified individually. When this setting is disabled, this becomes far harder.

I'm of the opinion that this change is good and actually increases security across the board, including for the people who are using it to exchange information during protests since it disables a vector for tracking devices.

> Is Apple being Pro-CCP with this change?

I don't think Apple is Pro-CCP, Apple is Pro-Being-Able-To-Do-Business-In-China, which means doing whatever the CCP tells you to do, even if it means compromising your ethics.

> compromising your ethics

My more cynical view is that there are no ethics to compromise. The ethic is make money. Any appearance of ethics is there as a marketing gimmick.

Apple is a publicly traded company. It's beholden to the ethics of its shareholders.

At the risk of being an Apple apologist, their manufacturing is effectively held hostage by China. Yes Apple is taking the "make more profit" choice, but the alternative is pretty devastating to the company. Long term, Apple needs to diversify their manufacturing footprint.

(Note that I still think Apple would adhere to the CCP's requests/laws just to be able to sell in China. China would ban Apple products if they believed Apple was not cooperative.)

They’re already diversifying their manufacturing to Vietnam, India and Malaysia because random draconian zero-Covid lockdowns have been very disruptive to their supply chain, not out of any high principle.

The protesters should use these little gizmos instead:


Basically micro web servers with MicroSD cards for storage, a battery and WiFi AP with 2h battery life and in the form factor of a chunky flash drive. You can power them off a power bank for more airtime.

All tech companies that rely upon China for manufacturing are in this situation -- not just Apple.

Agreed to a point. Smaller companies can more easily get enough manufacturing capacity elsewhere, but larger companies are trapped by finding that capacity, technical ability, and hitting the price points they need at scale.

> compromising your ethics

Is disabling a feature for all citizens within a geographical region "compromising your ethics" I would argue not. Different countries have different laws, including what kind of radio spectrum a phone is able to use. These have to be respected. As distasteful as it is, "respecting" the laws of an autocratic country.

Now if Apple was handing over geolocation information for apple users on bulk to the CCP, or compiling lists of "likely" dissidents or <insert-minority-group> then I think we are at least knee-deep in unethical waters. But they'll probably be some people out there who say Apple-the-company is completely ethical unless they themselves are the ones pulling the trigger. I kind of disagree on this outlook, but legally again they might be right. (If you take your ethical/moral bases on that of current law.)


Apple doesn't love China in particular. It would gladly cripple protestor communications in the US if threatened, too.

Apple's "home constituency" if anything is China; approximately 100% of all Apple devices are made in China by Chinese nationals. Apple is more a Chinese company than an American one, in practice.

The CCP ultimately controls Apple as thoroughly as any US federal government lawmaking body or regulator.

I wouldn't be surprised if the CCP starts demanding that Apple start making changes to their worldwide software and not just the stuff released in China...

They really have Apple by the balls.

Which company design these Chinese-made Apple products?

Where is that design company located?

If that design company stopped outputting anything, what would the Chinese-made Apple product making company do? I'm guessing they would keep making more of the same and end up with a stale product in a few years.

>If you open airdrop to everyone, your device can be tracked and identified individually.

That can already be done using cell towers (especially with 5G) and GPS enabled state-supervised apps like WeChat, etc. So that's not a good reason.

If only iPhones had a way to turn off its cellular radio, some kind of “airplane mode” or something

Why should we possibly believe that any software switches actually fully disable anything? If there isn't a hardware killswitch, there is no reasonable expectation that the cellular radio is actually disabled...

There are trustworthy sources claiming that the NSA still tracks devices that are completely "powered off".

No reason to believe that the CCP doesn't have that ability as well.

I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I'm just pointing out that there is a tangible benefit to end-user privacy that is enabled by this change inasmuch as the features are advertised to work and inasmuch as I personally have investigated how they operate.

Certainly the CCP has other means to surveil their dissidents, and at a certain level of paranoia, leaving the cell phone behind might be a good idea. However that is a completely separate topic that does not deserve to be convoluted with this discussion.

It seems in the fervor to lambast Apple, very few people seem to be fully considering that the original feature is extremely problematic. People will often enable 'Everyone' when they need to exchange a file with someone, but forget to change it back. If you need any more evidence that this is so, I invite you to go into a public space and scan for Airdrop targets.

It's pretty easy to test this with a meter. I don't get any emf with my Samsung or my MacBook when I'm in those modes.

I do recall reading something about the cellular/radio chip is separate from the rest phones hardware.

It can still communicate with towers even when phone is off. The phone can’t control that behavior.

> It can still communicate with towers even when phone is off. The phone can’t control that behavior.

It cannot and does not. Please do not perpetuate this ridiculous fantasy.

Hardware killswitches are security theatre, if you can’t trust the software layer to that degree than you are just lost behind saving.

Strong disagree - defense in depth is a thing.

I once had my phone, which I had turned off, loudly ring during a moment of silence I was attending. It was extremely embarrassing, and until I replaced that phone whenever I was in a similar situation where it was critical to be quiet, I removed the battery. It wasn't that I didn't trust the phone or it's software, but mistakes and accidents happen, and for some critical situations it's better to be safe than sorry.

Same thing applies to phones with hardware switches.

No. You can inspect the hardware. If you can verify that the switch disables the radio, you don't have to worry about software do you?

... unless there is some other way to exfiltrate data, such as:

1. alternative antennae, chipsets?

2. some kind of filtering + buffer + delayed send

3. something else...?

Whatever the case, such techniques are not free of cost and increase the chance of exfil detection. So, killswitches provide a later of protection. Therefore, the claim that killswitches are of _no_ use is not adequately argued above.

> hardware. If you can verify that the switch disables the radio, you don't have to worry about software do you?

Until the next time you turn radio on, when it could just send out anything, anywhere if the software stack is untrusted, so we are back at square one.

I'm aware. You apparently did not notice my point #2 above:

> 2. some kind of filtering + buffer + delayed send

Resources (compute, storage) are needed for filtering, buffering, sending. However, these actions are not "free": (1) they increase the chance of detection later; (2) they require electrical power; (3) they require additional design and testing for the device using them. Isn't raising the cost of breaching security the basic idea?

So my point stands: A hardware kill switch serves as a security layer. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it is not (in general) simply security theater (your point above).

Doesn't "airplane mode" disable "airdrop" as well?

Airdrop uses a combination of bluetooth and wifi and does work with Airplane mode enabled.

Which can be tracked… Likely all the way via satellite.

Assuming the MAC randomization does not work as advertised and airplane mode does not actually disable the cellular and satellite modems as advertised, and airdrop's identity hashes are not as secure as advertised, or the attacker can fingerprint your specific radio and trilaterate its location via satellite, then sure, it can be tracked. Boy, do I feel stupid.

If on the other hand you want to enjoy having your phone broadcast your name and picture to everyone just because you forgot to change that setting back after the last time you AirDropped a video to your coworker, then by all means, Apple has done you a disservice.

if people started doing it in mass it would be pretty strong and obvious signal in and of itself due to the manual and intentional nature of the action

Why is it being rolled out in China first?

Because China told them to after protests last month or so. This did not just happen in the last two days.

This is arguably a good setting too, as there are plenty of stories of people in other parts of the world who AirDrop lewd/violent/disgusting pictures to anyone around with their phone set to “allow anyone”. It’s happened on planes, for example.

But this is a tool people figured out they could use for a different purpose: spreading info during protests. So now it’s caught up in politics.

For all the “evil Apple”, they’ve been better than others. But they are a total hostage. The vast majority of the stuff is in China. Piss off the CCP and the company practically dies overnight.

Yes, they should have fixed that long ago. But here we are.

Also, anyone who rides public transportation in a major metropolitan area has probably experienced perverts airdropping them pornography, and this would fix that issue.

I have not experienced this in my 10 years on the subway.

I am not sure if you are a man or a woman. Try changing the name of your iPhone to something like "Heather's iPhone" and then turn on AirDrop to "Everyone" on your subway rides. I am sure your experience will be vastly different.

Are you just guessing or do you actually have a reason to believe this?

Commuting in NYC on Subway.

My wife's phone is actually "Heather's iPhone" and it happened any time she accidentally left "Everyone" after e.g. a conference.

While she's more amused than offended, she thinks it's a good idea this promiscuous mode will now turn itself back off if she forgets.

Do you think your wife could handle one extra option that is not the default where some users could change the 10 minutes to 1 or more hours? Or is that too many options for the average users?

She's got no problem with settings, but it's preferable if it remembers for you to turn it back off.

What Apple does for a lot of things (see Focus, or DND) is "until I leave this place" (or event if in a calendared event) and "until tomorrow", those make more sense to me than a particular time frame.

So in this case where someone has for some special event to enable this feature they can get a few options. I was asking because Apple and GNOME fanboys claim that the average user is incapable to choose for themselves.

But honestly in this case they needed to release it globally, then designers would be happy they removed a feature, Apple could continue selling the idea that they respect human rights and privacy.

Sure, in any particular case, users could handle multiple options. But if you add multiple options in every similar ambiguous case, your phone suddenly becomes an Android or worse. And those who want that can already use Android; as someone who prefers the minimalistic design of Apple, I sure don't want options to multiply and spread in the UI, even if it occasionally means working around some limitation.

I don't believe this, a good designer can handle the task of showing all important options in a intuitive way and hide some of the stuff in an Advanced section.

There simply isnt a need to "Set the feature" for any kind of event. It's not like you can turn this on, put your phone in your pocket and then have people send unsolicited files to your phone all day long. Airdrop only works when your phone is unlocked and in use. You already have to interact with it to receive something, and you can put a shortcut button in control center for it. Making the privacy-preserving setting the default is the right call. Whether or not China had anything to do with it is honestly irrelevant.

> Making the privacy-preserving setting the default is the right call. Whether or not China had anything to do with it is honestly irrelevant.

One of us is wrong, here, my understanding is not that Apple changed a default , but Apple removed/wiped the default option . You claim that you can change the default back to what it was before ?

AirDrop harassment is a thing and sometimes arrested in Japan, shame. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190821/p2a/00m/0na/00...

Do you ride public transportation in a major metropolitan area? This is not a thing I've ever even heard of happening (I'm sure someone has done it) in the real world

It happens enough that the UK government want to outlaw it. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cyberflashing-to-become-a...

> The practice typically involves offenders sending an unsolicited sexual image to people via social media or dating apps, but can also be over data sharing services such as Bluetooth and Airdrop.

I'd wager the majority of cases they refer to being via social media and dating apps given the language.

I'm a little confused by the "Apple's doing bad here" sentiment. The easier to implement, and definitely more effective solution would have been to just disable the Everyone feature completely. Just remove it from the menu. This would have been something like

    action.isEnabled = self.isInChina
Instead, they went through the effort to actually make it still there, but time bombed. They had to add a timeout function, and record the time it was enabled, etc. And at the end of the day, the activist/protestor at a street gathering now has the inconvenience of re-enabling "everyone" 6 times an hour.

For me, this basically feels like lip service to the Chinese government, but otherwise a finger. Maybe I'm beeing too myopic.

Yeah, I quite agree. Reposting my comment from above here because this makes a better thread ... I think this 10 minute delay might actually be intended to be protective for the protestors. Any radio transmitter is a beacon that can be localized and destroyed. In serious warfare this is a major issue. "I'm up, they see me, I'm down" is drilled into military operators early and often.

You think Apple is trying to protect protestors?

Do you know which country manufactures the iPhone?

Apple is not suicidal.

There is a delicate balance of action and phrasing in China, no? It seems two contradictory ideas can coexist for significant lengths of time; e.g. see the complexities around Taiwan's relationship with China. Perhaps someone with a deeper knowledge of the culture can explain it better.

> For me, this basically feels like lip service to the Chinese government, but otherwise a finger. Maybe I'm beeing too myopic.

Plus they led everyone know about China in rolling the feature change there first.

I guess it works both ways though. If everyone had it on, you can't easily arrest every iPhone user. And people could spread information really quickly. Now you have to turn it on for 10 minutes at a time so you aren't organising that mass protest as fast.

The main use case here is sending stuff in high traffic places w/ plausible deniability such as during your commute or at a mall.

No, that’s a silly solution because airdrop everyone is super useful.

We heard about this over 2 weeks ago https://www.macrumors.com/2022/11/10/airdrop-10-minute-limit...

This is not in response to this particular protest. iOS16 just dropped, so the timing was coincidental I guess.

If you don’t believe this is in response to protest then how do you explain it being rushed out ONLY IN CHINA?

No one can explain the confidential-NDA internal workings of Apple in this forum, but here’s a constructed, plausible, scenario that contradicts the claim “Apple implemented this for China”:

If Apple was planning to release this in a point release of iOS 16, and then the Chinese government asked them to do something, then they could have said: “We have a feature in testing that we’d planned to ship later this cycle, so we’ll push that up and soft launch it in China first and then roll it out worldwide once any bugs are hammered out.”

This constructed example both satisfies the condition “why China first?” and also contradicts the assertion “it is certain that Apple implemented this at China’s request”. It is not known whether or not, and to what degree, that Apple considered and/or acted upon a request from China.

(It is also very unlikely that China requested this “after 10 minutes” option specifically. China would rather not have unmonitored peer-to-peer communications, and Apple tends to include temporary timers in their UI for RF/GPS features.)

I said "This is not in response to this particular protest."

This already existed. They did not see the current protest and then suddenly released it.

Nothing in the original tweet suggested it to be in response to this _particular_ protest either.

There have been protests via airdrop in china for months.

I think it could be interpreted that they pushed it out because of these protests. Most people won’t know about the feature until it matters and it’s too late.

When you work on software available globally, it's very normal to deploy or roll out features region-by-region. This seems par for the course.

The article I linked says

"The setting was reportedly added after protesters in the country used AirDrop to spread anti-government material."

Most other articles also mention this. I'm not unconvinced this had nothing to do with the feature. I'm just pointing out that this was already in the works. This was not a fast reaction to the current protests.

I don't think this is good. But Apple didn't just roll this out at a whim.

> The setting was reportedly added after protesters in the country used AirDrop to spread anti-government material

"Event A happened after Event B", is the only thing we can infer from this.

I'm curious what they mean by "was reportedly added". "Reported" by whom? What is the source for this information?

I think the timing and China-only bit is eyebrow-raising, but it'd be nice to know if this is just speculation, or if there's a credible source within Apple that's saying this is the reason why it was rolled out in China right now.

Right, and usually you roll out first to a smaller region, perhaps in a place where you have customers you don't care about as much for some reason. I don't think China is that region.

If they rolled it out to China first, that's a pretty huge region to start with if you want to test something isn't broken.

I realize apple hates options, but adding a 4th option to leave it as everyone indefinitely would have been sooo easy. And I see people were commenting about the protests as a motivating factor 2 weeks ago in that story.

When the CCP says “take that option off phones in China”, you do. Because if you don’t those hundreds of millions of devices they produce for you every year may stop being produced. Or find a new $500/each tariff on them. Or some other company killing thing.

Apple should have hedged years ago, now they’re stuck.

Right. It was a response to a previous protest.

But it gets far more clicks today than weeks ago.

I'm not an expert on China, but my understanding is that there has been a wave of protests over the past several months/weeks in which Airdrop has been used to disseminate protest materials. The intensity of the protests has ebbed/flowed, and they are happening in many different locations. Even "the current protest" is not well defined: there are currently many different protests that share a common grievance, happening in different cities across China.

Being pedantic about whether this was was a response to "a previous protest" is like arguing about which specific mosquito caused you to put on bug spray.

My point was that this wasn’t something Apple just did in the last 2-3 days. It was done weeks ago.

And my point is that the protests have been going on for months. This story seems like it's probably related to them and it's just getting proper attention on HN this week.

iOS 16 came out months ago.

Did it? OK. I don't keep up with the release dates anymore. But I just got the notifications on my iPhone and iPad literally last week. I've only been on 16 for a few days.

Any Apple employee (or really, any large-company employee) would agree that this change is months of work. From the original problem statement (people get spammed when they leave AirDrop set to Everyone), to many strongly-opinionated discussions on how to solve (There's not a problem; Pop up a reminder to disable after an hour; Enable only for some period of time [5 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, user-configured]), and then arguments about how to phrase the UI (yes, even for something this small) and mock-ups and product reviews, and then development + QA and internal/Livability testing, and then coordinating for the actual iOS release.

It's a mountain of work, which would have kicked off a long time before any of these protests.

Normally it would be several months of work, but if it was a top level company directive (e.g. from the CEO) it would probably take 3-4 weeks at minimum. Note that protests have been going on sporadically for this entire year.

See this article about a protest from Peking university from May 2022: https://apnews.com/article/covid-health-shanghai-china-cbcac...

and Shanghai in April 2022: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/shanghai-videos-residents...

And in Henan in June 2022: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-61793149

> it would probably take 3-4 weeks at minimum

Maybe even less than that. I can't imagine the prototype would take longer than a day.

I can see a prototype being done in a day, but getting it past content review, legal, QA, etc will take some time.

I worked at Apple. It really depends on how big a change this is under the hood. iOS already has similar infrastructure for bluetooth toggles.

If it is low risk, it could make it into a dot release with minimal effort.

But yes, minimum time frame a month standard, maybe a couple weeks if it came from high up (which it did) and was time sensitive.

And is it standard procedure for Apple to release these kinds of changes only in China? They're clearly putting massive priority on this change launching in that geography ASAP (for one reason or another), so it doesn't seem hard to believe that this bypassed most of their other process as well.

Sooner or later Apple will have to losen its grip on the device because if they not, counties will simply try to use Apple as enforcer. Just as with privacy the best road being "We don't have that data", the best road with this is to be able to say "We don't have control over it".

it already has in China. I don't know how much is known to the public but in order to do business in China, Apple has created a parallel Chinese app store/icloud/etc.[1][2] I imagine even the operating systems and possibly hardware differ from what they sell elsewhere.

[1]: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208351

[2]: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/17/technology/apple-china-ce...

I'm aware. My guess is, it mostly flies under the radar because this is not happening in Europe or the USA but for how long? What happens when Italy&Hungary starts demanding modifications to protect their citizens against godlessness, abortion, sex out of wedlock, political organisations against them or whatever agenda the far right has?

You might say its the same about the "woke culture censorship" but it is not, in the case of the trends that are in mission to design society those people don't shame people out of society or they don't boycott - they physically target people. Many people lost their lives since 2016(The year of Brexit&Trump).

I don't know if a third-party app might be able to duplicate this functionality, but even if so the problem is third party apps can be banned, and can be seen on phones by authorities and used as a reason for suspicion. People have to be bold enough to install it to receive messages too.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently...

... for 10 minutes

... for a greater China

That was Steve Jobs' mantra. Not Tim Apple's. Different administration.

Apple wasn't making and selling devices in China before Cook? Interesting.

Jobs might just leave China.

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