Last month, however, Apple made a change to this setting, starting
with iPhone users in China. In iOS 16.1.1 and iOS 16.2 beta 2 in
China, the “Everyone” option could only be enabled for 10 minutes.
After that 10-minute period lapsed, the AirDrop setting would
change back to “Contacts Only.”
Apple drew criticism for this change, as protesters in China had
been using AirDrop to spread posters and other content in
opposition to Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. The Chinese
government is believed to have made the change request to Apple,
and Apple complied with that request.
At the time, Apple also said it would expand this restriction for
AirDrop globally starting in 2023. The company, however, appears
to have expedited this timeline. Starting with iOS 16.2 RC today,
the new restriction on the “Everyone” option for AirDrop is now in
I’ve had AirDrop set to accept drops from everyone for a while, and never encountered any weirdos, but stories like this one regarding nude photos being AirDropped anonymously on a Southwest flight are common. I wonder, though, whether “Everyone all the time” should have remained an option alongside “Everyone for 10 minutes” — it does seem like some people (schools for example) make good use of keep AirDrop open always.