Apple offers apps that have been approved by the Russian government
Apple offers apps that have been approved by the Russian government

Users who install a new iPhone in Russia will see a screen that allows them to automatically install apps as of April 1st which has been officially approved by the Russian government under Russian law.

In 2019, relevant laws were passed requiring smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and smart TVs sold in Russia to initially contain certain applications produced by Russian companies by April 1.

The law was supposed to go into effect in July 2020, but has been postponed to April 2021.

According to the Russian news site Vedomosti, users will not install if they do not want to install applications.

Apple confirmed this by complying with the law and giving users the option to install apps when their phones were activated.

Although Vedomosti cited government services and applications from Russian companies such as Yandex, and Kaspersky Lab, it is unclear what applications are available to users.

The government seems to realize that giving preference to some apps can be difficult and plans to add them to their list over time:

A Russian official told the Russian news site Vedomosti: The ministry does not want popular apps to dominate the list of mandatory initial installation. When alternatives appear in the market, they prove user interest and quickly gain popularity. They will be included in this selection and installation will also be provided.

Apple has always had strict controls over the iPhone setup process, and even in a marketplace, that seems to be changing now.

Although Apple has made changes in the past to comply with local laws (maps have changed), in Russia, Apple has blocked a number of smartwatch faces and stored iCloud data on a state-owned server in China - but that might be the case. An interesting change will affect the screen every user sees when setting up an iPhone.

Apple is gradually allowing users to change the way iOS works and they can change some default apps in iOS 14. However, the Russian government now has almost no control over the setup process.

Given that the company faces legal challenges from the European Union and the United States over antitrust laws, Apple may have to give the government more control if it wants to sell its phones to its citizens.

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