It’s been rumoured that Apple is testing hidden functionality within iOS 16 that restricts users from accessing certain features based on location.
The tech giant can already restrict users based on location, but only through hard-coding techniques. This means that most restrictions are tied to the device’s region, most often by where the hardware is from or through software settings. However, according to a new 9to5Mac report, Apple has been working on a new way to determine where a user is located.
The new system is internally named ‘countryd’ and was silently added to iOS 16.2. It is not being used for anything so far. Still, it has the ability to combine multiple data points, such as users’ country code from their Wi-Fi router, current GPS location and SIM card information to find out what country the phone is in.
Code seen by 9to5Mac has shown that the system is designed to set restrictions determined by government regulators. An example of these local restrictions is FaceTime not being available in the UAE.
Apple may be planning on introducing this system as a means of detecting activities such as sideloading.
If you don’t know, sideloading is the process of installing third-party apps by alternative methods. In the case of iPhones, it would mean gaining apps or additional software from somewhere other than the App Store.
Bloomberg reported in December 2022 that due to pressure from the European Union (EU), Apple reportedly planned to introduce sideloading in iOS. More recently, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reported that sideloading would be coming in iOS 17, but exclusively in Europe.
The new ‘countryd’ system makes a lot more sense with that information, as it would allow the company to determine if the device is being used in an EU country and whether or not to allow sideloading.
It’s still unclear if Apple will announce sideloading as a new iOS feature or how the change will be implemented. iOS 17 will be officially revealed at Apple’s WWDC in June 2023.
In related news, iOS 17 could also feature changes to the lock screen, Apple Music and more.