As we reported earlier this week, the Apple News app within the latest iOS 9 operating system is not accessible in China, stirring up some controversy. Although Apple has never officially introduced this English-only app to China, it blocks its use for those who have registered in the U.S. and attempt to activate in China. The move has aroused concerns that the U.S. company is quick to appease the Chinese government’s controversial censorship policies. Apple still hasn’t commented publicly on what motivated the subtle move, but China’s history of distrusting foreign media, disabling VPNs and maintaining a formidable firewall make political reasons a viable guess. Even though the app is not core to Apple’s product, the move is significant as a concession to Chinese restrictions. But what about the rest of Apple’s services in China? Let’s turn the page back to look at some ‘exclusive’ features that Chinese iPhone users do and don’t get compared to Apple’s other markets.

Apple has a region lock policy for the App Store, meaning that China has a specific store, like many other countries. However region you are in only depends on the App Store where your Apple ID registered, and unlike the Apple News app users can register to any country’s App Store without providing a local credit card. Therefore, Chinese users can log in to the U.S. app store in China and grab apps that don’t exist in Chinese store (there are a lot!) once they’ve topped up their account. However registering in the U.S. store means they they lose the ability to download China-only featured apps like Xiami Music or Buka Manga. How to enable this in China? Log out the current Apple ID and find the nation icon at the bottom right of the app store inside the iTunes, tap on any free apps and create a new account in the pop up window. Is this political? Yes and no. Apple has its universal rules in terms of the contents and functions in an app, and for the most part the absent apps have conditional copyright permission or the owners have some regional business strategies. Some apps (like browsers) built with VPN functions are rejected from Chinese App Store however, because it violates local law, which is politically motivated.

When iPhones have been shipped globally, some countries have forbidden Facetime to protect the profit of local carriers. That’s absolutely the case for China’s big three telecom companies. Consumers not only can’t find the audio function on their China model iPhones, but they also can’t receive Facetime calls from non-China models. Despite this, Facetime video works fine. My guess is that voice call takes less bandwidth while video call can drive the consumption of the carrier’s data. How to enable this in China? Jailbreak your phone and search Facetime Audio Enabler in Cydia.

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

What you get

Full access to all premium content and our full archives

Members'-only newsletters

Preferential access and discounts to all TechNode events

Direct access to the TechNode newsroom

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

Wang Boyuan

Blogger and translator.