Last year, Apple removed hundreds of thousands of VPN apps from the Chinese iOS App Store due to government intervention. Now, it looks like the Chinese government has gone behind apps that make use of CallKit API. This is because Apple is sending developers an email informing them that they need to remove the CallKit framework from their app in China due to government regulation.
VoIP apps deliver voice services over the Internet (VOIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol).
Once developers remove the CallKit functionality, their apps would again be listed on the Chinese App Store. Apple is making this move due to the new regulation enforced by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
Here’s Apple’s memo to Chinese app makers:
Recently, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) requested that CallKit functionality be deactivated on all apps available on the China App Store.
During our review, we found that your app currently includes CallKit functionality and has China listed as a available territory in iTunes Connect.
This app cannot be approved with CallKit functionality active in China. Please make the appropriate changes and resubmit this app for review.
If you have already ensured that CallKit functionality is not active in China, you may reply to this message in Resolution Center to confirm.
Apple had first introduced CallKit with iOS 10 and offers VoIP apps a way to make use of the native in-call Phone app and UI. The framework is primarily used by VoIP apps and the move from the Chinese government seems to be a move to take them down. WeChat, which is massively popular in China, had CallKit framework integration for a short period of time before it was again removed from the app. No wonder then that Skype, a popular VoIP application from Microsoft, was removed from the Chinese App Store.
As a side effect of this move from Apple, apps that use the CallKit framework to pause audio when an incoming call arrives have also been removed from the App Store.
This isn’t the first time Apple is removing apps from Chinese App Store.
Last November, the country’s Ministry of Public Security gave Apple the first notice that a number of VoIP apps did not comply with local law. As a result, it removed a number of offending VoIP apps from Chinese App Store, including Skype.
Earlier in 2017, the company removed unlicensed VPN apps to comply with new government regulations. “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations,” explained the firm. And at the start of 2018, Apple had to turn over iCloud data in mainland China to a state-owned local partner.