Apple has been testing a new, more modern hidden feature in iOS 16 that restricts functionality based on a user’s location, according to a report by external media outlet 9to5Mac.
Apple currently uses hard-coded technology to restrict iOS features to specific locations, meaning that most restrictions are only associated with areas of the device, either through a software setting or a hardware source, the report said. But the company has been working on a new, smarter way to pinpoint a user’s location.
According to the press, a new system known internally as ‘countryd’ has been quietly added to iOS 16.2, but is not yet actively used. It combines a number of data such as the current GPS location, the country code from the Wi-Fi router and information from the SIM card to determine the user’s country/region.
Combining all this information makes it more difficult for the user to bypass these restrictions. At the same time, however, it will be easier for the device to automatically ignore these restrictions when the user travels to another region.
Back in December last year, Bloomberg reported that Apple had been planning to allow sideloading on iOS for the first time due to pressure from the EU. (sideloading is the installation of third-party apps via methods other than the official shop, the App Store)
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently said that while Apple still plans to allow sideloading on iOS 17, the feature will not be available anywhere outside of Europe. With the new “countryd” system, Apple will be able to easily determine if the device is available in EU countries to allow sideloading.
Of course, if Apple is forced to allow sideloading in other countries/regions, a simple update to the system will enable the feature in other regions.
It’s not clear how or if Apple will announce sideloading as a new iOS feature. The company will release iOS 17 and other new versions of the operating system at WWDC 2023 in June.