Apple simply offering Russian apps to iPhone users might not be enough

What you need to know

  • Apple now tells Russian iPhone users that they can install Russian-made apps during setup.
  • This comes after Russian law was changed to force companies to install Russian apps.

Telling people apps exist isn’t the same as installing them.

Today saw Apple make good on a promise it made to Russia recently. The promise was that it would pre-install apps made by Russian developers on iPhones that are sold in the country. Except, Apple hasn’t quite gone all the way, has it?

As of now, users are presented with a new screen during setup. That screen highlights apps made by Russian developers and allows users to install them right there and then. Apple also makes it very clear that the move isn’t something it is doing by choice, too.

In compliance with Russian legal requirements, here are some apps from Russian developers that you may download.

Russian reports last month suggested Apple had agreed that, as of April 1, it would put Russian apps front and center. To some extent, it has. But letting people install apps isn’t really the same as preinstalling them. And the latter is what everyone expected Apple to do.

Including the Russians.

Apple has agreed to comply with the rules of the law on mandatory pre-installation on gadgets of Russian software – from April 1

It’s also worth noting that users can skip Apple’s new setup screen completely and without installing a thing. I for one am very interested to learn what the Kremlin makes of all this. Has Apple gone far enough with today’s change, or will further discussions be needed?

It’s worth remembering that this is a legal requirement, by the way. Devices that don’t comply are banned from sale within Russia, meaning Apple could theoretically find that it is no longer able to sell iPhone there. That could be a problem, especially considering Apple has no fewer than five carrier partners in the country that, presumably, also wouldn’t be able to see Apple’s phones.

Either Apple knows something we don’t know, which is very possible. Or it’s playing a game of brinkmanship with a country that isn’t known for backing down.

It’s time to get the popcorn out, folks.

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