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Apple forced to offer Russian iPhone users local apps at setup thanks to new law – The Verge

iPhones purchased in Russia now show a list of Russian-made apps at startup, thanks to a new law which comes into effect today, MacRumors reports. The prompt is part of the standard iPhone setup process, appearing after the user has selected other options like whether to allow Location Services or App Analytics.

“In compliance with Russian legal requirements, continue to view available apps to download,” the dry text reads, before showing a short list of just shy of a dozen apps. These include various Yandex apps, an email app from Mail.ru, a video live streaming service called OK Live, and popular Russian social network VK. A “Get” icon appears next to each app, giving the user a shortcut to install them.

The prompt comes in response to a Russian law that originally passed back in 2019 requiring manufacturers to pre-install Russian-made software on devices sold in the country. It covers smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, laptops, and desktop computers. According to Reuters, the law is part of a broader attempt by Moscow to reduce its dependence on foreign companies as well as gain more control over the internet.

Last month, Apple agreed to comply with the law by giving users the option to install Russian-made apps at startup. It’s a notable concession from the company, which typically maintains tight control over the setup process of its devices. However, Apple has been willing to make changes in apparent attempts to comply with Russia’s local laws in the past, including changing maps to show Crimea as Russian territory and removing a gay pride watch face.

Reuters notes that the big beneficiaries of the new law look set to be Yandex and Mail.ru. But in a statement last month a Russian official said that alternative apps will be included if they prove popular with users.