Russia

Russian officials ordered to get rid of their iPhones

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Russia fines Apple for not storing data in country
Neither iPhone nor Android are secure enough to satisfy the Kremlin.
Photo: Bryan Jones/Flickr CC

Claiming that iPhones can be hacked by Western intelligence agencies, the Kremlin reportedly told government officials involved in the 2024 Russian election to get rid of their iPhones.

A Kremlin spokesperson then told Reuters that government officials shouldn’t use a smartphone at all, Android or iPhone.

SpyBuster app keeps iPhone data out of Russia’s hands

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The app helps you weed out iOS apps that may be transmitting data to Russia or Belarus.
The app helps you weed out iOS apps that may be transmitting data to Russia or Belarus.
Photo: MacPaw

The new SpyBuster iOS app scans your iPhone for other apps that may be surreptitiously sending your data to Russia or Belarus.

The privacy-oriented app comes from Ukraine-based developer MacPaw, which released a version of SpyBuster for macOS in the spring of 2021, not long after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Putin opposition app returns to the App Store in Russia

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Putin opposition app returns to the App Store in Russia
The Smart Voting app was removed ahead of Russia's election last September.
Photo: Imad Alassiry/Unsplash

Smart Voting, an app run by supporters of jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny, has returned to the App Store in Russia following its removal last September.

Cupertino pulled the app after Russia made threats about prosecuting top Apple employees in the country. Google, which also removed the app after the Kemlin lashed out, allowed the app back into the Play Store soon after Russia’s election last year.

Ukrainians use ‘Find My’ to track Russian troops who stole devices

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Find My AirPods can also track Russian troops.
Find My AirPods can also track Russian troops.
Photo: Franak Viačorka

Ukrainians have turned to Apple’s Find My device-tracking technology to follow Russian troop movements. After Russian soldiers stole Apple gear during the invasion, the devices’ Ukrainian owners can see and report on where the troops toting the gadgets are going in real time, including a recent retreat into Belarus.

MacPaw’s SpyBuster helps you weed out Mac apps reporting to Russia

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SpyBuster stops apps reporting to Russia
It's completely free to use.
Image: MacPaw

Ukrainian developer MacPaw today released SpyBuster, a new (and completely free!) Mac app that identifies software built by and reporting to “undesirable countries of origin” — such as Russia and Belarus.

SpyBuster also lets you block those connections so that you can prevent additional data being sent to overseas servers, where it may not be protected by the same privacy laws that we’re accustomed to in other countries.

Putin threatens companies like Apple that quit Russia

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Putin threatens to nationalize assets left in Russia by companies like Apple
Any Apple computers left in Russia could become the property of the Russian government.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Russia is considering nationalizing the assets of companies like Apple that pulled out of the country in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, reportedly endorsed the plan on Thursday. The Mac-maker is just one of hundreds of companies that could be affected, but it’s a prominent one.

It’s not known how much inventory Apple left behind after it pulled out of Russia on March 1.

Ukrainian devs work in bathtubs as Russian bombs and missiles fly

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MacPaw's Julia Petryk works in her bathtub, the safest place in her Kyiv apartment as Russian bombs and missiles fall.
MacPaw's Julia Petryk works in her bathtub, the safest place in her Kyiv apartment during the Russian bombardment of Ukraine.
Photo: Julia Petryk/MacPaw

Between air raids and missile strikes, Julia Petryk works in her bathtub in Ukraine. It’s the safest place in her Kyiv apartment.

“The last interview I gave for media was in the bathtub,” she told Cult of Mac in an email. It’s “the safest place in the apartment during bombardment.”

Donate a drone to help protect Ukrainian civilians [Updated]

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Want to help protect Ukrainian civilians during the Russian invasion? Donate a surveillance drone.
Want to help protect Ukrainian civilians during the Russian invasion? Donate a surveillance drone.
Photo: Skylum

Among the various calls for help on behalf of Ukraine during the Russian invasion, software company Skylum offered a way for you to donate a surveillance drone that could help safeguard Ukrainian civilians from the ravages of war.

“You can help Ukrainians to protect themselves as your drone will provide real-time pictures of the situation on the ground,” Skylum said in a blog post Thursday.

Reached for comment via email from Western Ukraine, Skylum Marketing Manager Sabina Iliasova told Cult of Mac how drone deployment will work and why it’s so crucial. She is the contact who will handle donations.

Crimea is again part of Ukraine on Apple Maps

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Crimea is again part of Ukraine on Apple Maps
Apple is no longer concerned about angering Russia by saying Crimea is part of Ukraine.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple Maps now indicates that Crimea is part of Ukraine. That shouldn’t be a surprise … it is. But the app reportedly showed the peninsula as part of no country in the wake of the 2014 Russian invasion and subsequent occupation.

It appears Russia’s recent invasion of the rest of Ukraine pushed Apple to change the way it labels the region.

Tim Cook tells employees Apple will match donations to help Ukraine

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Tim Cook delivers the goods at Apple's iPhone 11 event.
"This moment calls for unity, it calls for courage," Cook said.
Photo: Apple

After Apple on Tuesday confirmed that it ceased product sales in Russia, CEO Tim Cook sent out an email to all employees that promises to match donations made to help Ukraine during the ongoing Russian invasion at a rate of 2:1.

“With each new image of families fleeing their homes and brave citizens fighting for their lives, we see how important it is for people around the world to come together to advance the cause of peace,” the email read.

Apple puts its own embargo on Russia (and you can help Ukraine, too)

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Caviar Putin iPhone
This Putin-themed iPhone from Caviar seems painfully ironic now.
Photo: Caviar

Apple has stopped selling its products in Russia as the country’s war on Ukraine stretches on. The Mac-maker is taking other steps as well, like removing the state-backed news applications RT and Sputnik from the App Store.

“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Apple said Tuesday in a statement. “We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.”

Russia might force Apple to change critical App Store payment policy

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App Store
Russia joined the voices around the world demanding Apple loosen its grip on the App Store and in-app purchases.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Add Russia to the list of countries investigating the App Store. It is reportedly looking into whether Apple’s policy forbidding iPhone developers from telling customers about alternate — and possibly cheaper — payment options is a violation of its antitrust laws.

The U.S. and other countries are asking that same question.

Russia fines Apple $12 million over App Store complaint

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Apple in Russia
Apple is accused of exploiting its market position.
Photo: Caviar

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has fined Apple $12 million for allegedly abuse its prominent position in the world of mobile apps.

It claims that Apple gives its own products a competitive advantage on iOS. Apple “respectfully [disagrees]” with the decision.

iPhones in Russia now suggest local apps as part of setup process

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Apple in Russia
Not all Russian iPhones look like this. But they do all recommend local apps.
Photo: Caviar

Russia’s “anti-Apple” law came into force today, meaning that all smartphones, tablets, and computers sold in the country must offer local software and apps as part of the setup process.

Apple reportedly “strongly opposed” the law, and even went so far as to threaten to pull out of the Russian market over it. However, as was the case with a government-created “Do Not Disturb” app in India, it eventually relented.

iPhone will soon ship with government-approved apps preinstalled in Russia

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App Store image
New rules will kick in next month.
Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash CC

Apple devices sold in Russia will come preinstalled with Russian-made software approved by the government starting next month, a report published Tuesday suggests.

This is in response to a law, coming into force April 1, designed to promote the domestic tech sector. It affects all smartphone manufacturers, not just Apple.

Proposed Russian law could hit Apple App Store hard

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The Apple App Store could be in trouble in Russia
A proposed Russian law slashes Apple’s App Store commission, and allows rival software stores.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

If a law proposed on Tusday to the Russian State Duma gets enacted, then Apple would only be able to collect a 20% commission on software sold through the App Store. And it would force Apple to allow iPhone users to install apps from other software stores.

Russia delays forcing government-approved apps onto iPhones and Macs

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Putin adds power to your iPhone case.
Apple now has until 2021 to decide if a Russian law forcing apps onto the iPhone is enough for it to pull out of the country.
Photo: Caviar

A Russian law requiring all phones and computers, including iPhone and Mac, sold in that country come bundled with third-party software localized for Russia won‘t go into effect July 1, as had been originally planned. Instead, implementation won‘t occur until early next year.

This comes as a temporary reprieve for Apple. The company has such privacy concerns over this legislation it might withdraw from the country rather than comply with the law.

European MPs want Apple Maps correction over Crimea controversy

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European MPs want Apple Maps correction over Crimea controversy
Apple has said it will look into the situation.
Photo: Andrew Butko/Wikimedia CC

A dozen members of the European Parliament have sent letters to Apple. They are demanding that it correct information Crimea, the Russian annexed peninsula. When viewed inside Russia, both Apple Maps and Apple Weather present Crimea as belonging to Russia.

Russian lawmakers made the initial request to Apple. But it seems that a whole lot of people are not happy about it.

Apple might bail on Russia over authoritarian app demands

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Putin adds power to your iPhone case.
Putin signed a law that Apple reportedly thinks will let the Russian government use iPhones and Macs to spy on Russian citizens.
Photo: Caviar

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved legislation that requires all phones and computers come bundled with third-party software localized for Russia. This is giving Apple such privacy concerns it might withdraw from the country.

Apple will take ‘deeper look’ at how it handles disputed borders after Crimea controversy

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European MPs want Apple Maps correction over Crimea controversy
Apple recently changed Apple Maps and Weather to show Crimea belonging to Russia.
Photo: Andrew Butko/Wikimedia CC

Apple says that it is going to take a “deeper look at how we handle disputed borders” after recent controversy about the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Last week, Apple agreed to depict the disputed peninsula as belonging to Russia on Apple Maps and Apple Weather. The changes only showed when viewed inside Russia. In the backlash that ensued, Ukranian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said that Apple should stick to “high-tech and entertainment”.