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Apple tweaks iOS animation in China in attempt to avoid sales ban

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The company thinks a software fix can resolve its Qualcomm dispute

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple released a tiny update to iOS this week designed to avoid a sales ban in China. iOS version 12.1.2 contains software changes exclusive to China that are designed to circumvent Apple’s patent dispute with Qualcomm, which won an initial sales ban over claims that Apple violated a pair of its patents.

The update changes the animation for when an app is forced to close, according to MacRumors, seemingly avoiding a Qualcomm patent around app management. Previously a closed app would slide off the top of the screen, but it now shrinks and disappears into the middle of the screen.

Last month, Qualcomm won a court injunction that banned Apple from selling iPhone models including the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X. iOS 12.1.2 The patents related to how software resizes pictures and manages applications. This fix appears to change application management, but it’s currently unclear what, if anything, has changed about the process of resizing pictures.

Apple has previously said that it doesn’t believe iOS 12, the latest version of its software, infringes upon these patents, but today’s update would indicate that the company still had some concern.

Qualcomm did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company is also suing to have Apple’s latest iPhones, the XS and XR, banned in China as well over violations of these same patents.