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Apple is reportedly testing a new system hidden in iOS 16 that will restrict certain features based on a user’s location. This move could make it harder for users to bypass certain restrictions, but at the same time easier for the device to automatically ignore them when the user travels to another region. This new system, internally known as “countryd,” combines multiple data sets to determine the country a user is in, including GPS location, Wi-Fi router country code, and SIM card information.
At present, most iOS restrictions are tied to the region of a device, either by software settings or where the hardware comes from. However, with the new countryd system, Apple can determine a user’s location with greater precision, making it easier to comply with local regulations.
According to 9to5Mac, the code suggests that the new system is designed to set restrictions determined by government regulators. Apple has been planning to allow sideloading on iOS for the first time due to pressure from the European Union. Sideloaded apps are those installed by alternative methods other than the official App Store. However, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently reported that the feature won’t be available anywhere other than Europe and that Apple will be able to determine if the device is being used in an EU country to allow sideloading.
While it’s still unclear if Apple will announce sideloading as a new iOS feature, it’s worth noting that iOS 16.2 also revealed that Apple has been working on a new “Custom Accessibility Mode” for iPhone that may be officially announced with iOS 17.
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Apple is set to unveil iOS 17 and other new versions of its operating systems in June at WWDC 2023. With the new “countryd” system in place, it will be interesting to see how Apple implements the feature and whether other countries will force the company to allow sideloading outside of Europe.