Apple has finally announced that it will support all of the major Chinese smartphone brands, starting with a handful of handsets made by Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo, on its China App Store. This includes the previously blocked in-app purchases by Chinese brands Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Lenovo.
Apple apps now available on Samsung
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones will be the first to receive the apps, with an expected rollout date sometime in late July.
But in the meantime, developers can start making their apps available in Chinese. These include Google Maps and YouTube as well as several messaging apps, including WeChat, Weibo, Sina Weibo, and Tencent QQ.
China Unicom will also soon start offering Chinese apps for Android devices. It’s the first time Google Maps has come to the country. Further, you can check also WhatsApp tracking apps that available for both Android and Apple devices.
Apple and Google have historically blocked these third-party apps in China, and the Chinese government has made efforts to crack down on apps that might contain banned content.
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“I’m pleased to welcome these apps to the store,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “Our goal is to help developers provide the best user experience possible.”
Apple first announced the deal with Chinese phone makers in January. While it had already signed similar agreements with local manufacturers OnePlus and OPPO in December.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment on whether Google Maps would come to these phones, although reports of its arrival have emerged.
Apple and Google
Tencent, China’s largest social network and gaming company, is working with phone manufacturers to develop Android phones with localized versions of its WeChat messaging service.
Chinese smartphone makers have been rapidly expanding beyond their home market in recent years, but the country has also had strict rules for foreign brands.
Last year, a federal court ruled that the Google search app violated Chinese law. Apple had been blocked from offering the app in the country since 2010.
The China App Store also hasn’t been without issues. Apple last year had to remove 32 virtual private network (VPN) apps from the store. After authorities said that the apps were harming internet security.
In February, the US app store was blocked in China. But services have been restored following high-profile complaints from high-profile social media users.
Until now, only domestic services could be accessed on iPhones. And Chinese authorities have been known to block local apps, both within the country and abroad.
For example, the iOS App Store in China was down for at least two hours last year. And on New Year’s Day, app-makers like Angry Birds maker Rovio and messaging service Tango were affected.
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Up until now, Apple has been able to bypass the restrictions by having the iOS App Store listed on Apple’s Chinese website instead.
But now that the apps are live. It remains to be seen if the Chinese government will continue allowing in-app purchases, which can be a huge revenue source for app developers.