Apple has updated its app verification process for the China App Store. Now, new apps must show a license from the Chinese government before launching. According to Reuters, this move aligns Apple with local competitors who had already adopted such policies in previous years to comply with China’s evolving state regulations.
This latest news comes just days after China announced the regulatory crackdown, as reported by ReadWrite.
ICP filing: A must for app developers
The “internet content provider (ICP) filing” is now a prerequisite for app developers wishing to launch new apps on Apple’s App Store in China. The ICP filing is a registration system required for websites to operate legally in China. Most local app stores, like Tencent’s and Huawei’s, have used this system since 2017.
To get an ICP filing, developers must either set up a company in China or partner with a local publisher. This requirement has historically posed challenges for numerous foreign apps. Apple’s earlier flexibility with ICP made its China App Store more diverse than local rivals. China is Apple’s third-largest market, after the Americas and Europe.
However, in August, China introduced a new regulation obliging all app stores and developers to submit an “app filing” detailing business specifics to the authorities. Last week, regulators revealed that Apple’s App Store hadn’t completed its app filings yet.
This regulation could remove many apps from Apple’s China App Store. This includes big foreign apps like X (formerly Twitter) and Telegram, both of which gained traction during the 2022 anti-COVID-19 lockdown protests.
Furthermore, Apple’s decision has sparked discussions among the developer community. Some developers are even contemplating removing their apps if they can’t meet the new requirements. Some iPhone users in China have even considered using Apple accounts from other nations to access their preferred apps.
With the new regulation in place, apps lacking the necessary filings will face penalties after a grace period ending in March of the upcoming year. Newly created apps, however, have been subject to this rule since September.