iPhone users in Iran discovered today that they’re no longer able to access the App Store, in what appears to be a total block of the country, according to Bleeping Computer. While Apple doesn’t sell phones or operate the App Store in Iran, Iranians could still import Apple products from another county and set them up to access portions of the App Store meant for other regions. It appears that now, Apple has closed that loophole, blocking any traffic coming from inside Iran from accessing the App Store in any capacity.
It’s not clear what prompted the change, but it presumably goes back to US sanctions on Iran, which President Trump amped up last year. Apple hasn’t made a statement on the changes, and it didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Should the ban be permanent, owners of iOS devices in Iran will have to route their internet traffic through VPNs, making it appear that they’re in another country, in order to access the App Store going forward. That’ll make it much harder to use Apple’s devices.
Users who try to visit the App Store in Iran now receive a message reading, “The App Store is unavailable in the country or region you’re in.”
Apple began removing Iranian developers’ apps from the App Store last year. In January, it pulled apps that facilitated transactions for businesses. And in August, it removed a number of popular consumer apps, including a ride-hailing service and a food delivery service. “Under the US sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries,” Apple said in a message to developers at the time. It may be that under Trump, Apple is more concerned about staying in compliance with the law.
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