Apple's call recording feature sparks online debate in China
Published: Jun 11, 2024 09:01 PM
The Parler logo is seen on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on January 11. Photo: AFP

The Parler logo is seen on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on January 11. Photo: AFP

Apple launched iOS 18 at WWDC24 on Tuesday, introducing call recording and transcription across multiple languages within Apple Intelligence, signaling a strategic move to meet the market demand.

Apple said that when call recording is enabled on iOS 18, participants will be automatically notified, and recordings and transcripts are easily accessible. The iOS 18 Beta version is available now, with the full version expected this fall. 

Following its launch, "iPhone now has call recording" quickly became one of the hot search topics on Weibo. Some netizens said that notifying about call recordings is unnecessary, as it could make speakers more cautious and conversations awkward.

But others argued that notification is crucial for privacy, asserting that individuals deserve to know when they're being recorded. Meanwhile, some Android users view call recording as standard, noting that Apple has lagged behind with this new feature.

Apple’s customer service confirmed that iOS 18 includes call recording, but further details on participant notification are pending until the official release. This function was previously omitted due to privacy and security concerns, according to a report by the Economic View.

Apple has avoided introducing a recording feature thus far due to privacy concerns, though recordings were possible via third-party devices. But Apple has finally bowed to public demand, marking what some said was a “compromise” to align more closely with market expectations, Liu Dingding, a technology industry observer, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Call recording and voice-to-text features are normal functions on the Android system, and this is not something new,” Liu noted.

In recent years, Apple's innovations have been increasingly market-driven. For instance, a few years ago, Apple only allowed its built-in keyboard, but later enabled third-party keyboards like Sogou, a Chinese input method owned by Tencent. This indicates not only its alignment with market trends but also the competitive pressures in the Chinese market, leading to necessary compromises.

During the 618 shopping festival, on Chinese e-commerce platforms Tmall and, Apple offered discounts of more than 20 percent on its latest iPhones. Observers said this hinted at a possible shift in Apple's approach within the Chinese market, in order to boost sales.

“To improve its standing in the Chinese market, Apple must align more closely with mainstream consumer demand. For example, Apple might consider integrating its operating system with local AI models. On pricing, I predict this autumn's new iPhone release might either be priced lower or offer significantly improved configuration,” Liu said.

Shipments of foreign brands in April reached 3.5 million, with Apple's iPhone accounting for the vast majority, highlighting Apple's continued strong appeal in China, according to Bloomberg.