Apple Disables Its News App In China

Apple, which has been throwing goodies to woo Chinese customers, could now upset some of its fans in the region. The U.S. firm has disabled its News app on iPhones in China, says a report from The New York Times.

Apple News app accessible from elsewhere

The Apple News app serves users the latest stories from various news organizations and is currently available only to users in the U.S. It is being tested in Britain and Australia.

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iPhone owners can use it anywhere around the world while traveling, but not in China, according to The New York Times. If anyone tries to access the Apple News app in China, they now get a message reading, “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”

Larry Salibra, who runs a software startup based in Hong Kong, told Quartz about getting the error message on opening Apple News in China but was able to access the app on China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK). Another American based in Beijing told Quartz that he had no troubles downloading and accessing Apple News from Taiwan as he purchased and registered his iPhone in the U.S. The app is unavailable in the domestic app store there.

China not being treated fairly

Users also get an error message when they access the app in China both with and without a VPN. The virtual private network masks the location of users. One user told the website that he was able to access the app on the iPad when using a different VPN.

Another Apple user, the founder of a startup based in Beijing, told Quartz that she had full access to the U.S. App Store and iBooks. Despite that, when she attempted to download the News app, both with and without a VPN connection, she got the error message.

China blocks or slows many foreign web services with the help of what it calls the “Great Firewall” and in addition has strict self-censorship rules for all Internet companies. China is the second-largest market for Apple now, contributing $13 billion to the U.S. firm’s top-line sales in the third quarter, according to The New York Times. Despite this, the U.S. firm has been slow to launch its software in Mainland China. For instance, its radio-esque music service Beats 1 is still not available in China.