AirDrop is great. It’s a fast and convenient way to send all sorts of data directly between Apple devices–contacts, photos, videos, web links, you name it. After the initial connection is made, the data is sent directly over Wi-Fi between devices in a peer-to-peer connection.
By default, AirDrop is set to allow incoming connection requests from Contacts Only, but that setting can be changed to Everyone–popular among protesters and teens alike. Starting with iOS 16.1.1, users in China will find that the “Everyone” option has changed to “Everyone for 10 minutes.” Apple won’t admit why this change is being made in China, but the peer-to-peer nature of AirDrop has made it popular for spreading anti-government protest material, and hopping into your settings every 10 minutes to re-enable the ability to receive AirDrop from strangers makes it a lot less useful for that.
Importantly, this change is not going to be limited to China. Apple confirmed to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that the change will go global next year in an effort to reduce AirDrop spam and abuse. Having your AirDrop settings set to Everyone doesn’t mean anyone can send you anything–you have to confirm each transfer, after all. But it potentially lets your name and contacts image be seen by anyone looking to send via AirDrop, and it shows a preview of the file before you accept the transfer, both of which can be anenues for abuse.