Apple Limits AirDrop Feature in China After Protestors Used It, Says Report

The new feature, which puts a 10-minute cap on receiving AirDrop files from "Everyone," is set to roll out globally.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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iPhone's sold in mainland China will only have permission to receive files from 'Everyone' for 10-minutes before reverting to the mode where it receives files from 'Contacts Only.'

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Apple has added new restrictions to AirDrop used on iPhones on mainland China, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday.

The company's popular wireless file-sharing feature now has a cap of 10 minutes when receiving files from "Everyone" or people stored into the phone's directory, as opposed to Contacts. After the 10-minute period ends, the iPhone will return back to the mode where it receiving files from just contacts, the report said. Previously, there was no time limit. 

The new AirDrop restrictions came with iPhone's latest mobile software update, iOS 16.1.1, which was released publicly on Wednesday. News of the changes were not shared in the notes section of iOS 16.1.1, which is where Apple typically informs people what the software update changes or fixes. 


Apple's iOS 16.1.1 dropped on Wednesday. It makes no mention of the new AirDrop time limit.

Apple/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram

The move by Apple comes after protestors in mainland China reportedly used AirDrop, which sends photos and files quickly over Bluetooth, to share protest material with members of the public. China's long-standing "zero-covid" policy, among other actions, have sparked renewed protests and outcries online in recent weeks in the country. During Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2019, protestors used AirDrop to spread their paraphernalia with members of the public. 

Apple reportedly told Bloomberg the feature is set to rollout globally in the coming year.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a CNET request for comment.