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Tech Thursday: Episode 4

Food app’s Halal fiasco, Apple’s new China head, Whatsapp off and on, and “nap capsules” put to sleep

Apple announces new role, cuts tips

Apple has created a new position of vice president and managing director for the Greater China area, and appointed Isabel Ge Mahe to the role. Born in China, Ge Mahe is currently based in California, where she spent the last nine years as the head of an engineering team on wireless technologies. She will be based out of an office in Shanghai to manage the company’s China business and liaise with the authorities.

“Everyone at Apple is proud of the contributions we make to the communities where we do business, and I am looking forward to deepening our team’s connections with customers, government, and businesses in China to advance innovation and sustainability,” Ge Mahe said in a statement.

The move comes as Apple is building a data center in China, and a new cybersecurity law went into effect in June requiring foreign companies to physically store China-relevant data within China’s borders.

Meanwhile, media reports have indicated that the company is planning to give up the 30-percent cut that it had been taking from the donations that app users give to developers via the Apple store, but at the time of press this had not been confirmed by the company.

Nap startup put to sleep

Beijing entrepreneur Dai Jiangong had been, until recently, piloting a startup in the tech hub of Zhongguancun that allowed customers to pay a few RMB for a few hours’ nap time in a sleeping pod.

That is, until the authorities recently announced that these pods have yet to meet regulations on a raft of issues, ranging from health and fire safety through to security.

Dai had stressed that the capsules were only available during the day, so they weren’t an attempt to compete with hotels. In any case, he hopes to officially launch the project after obtaining the necessary approvals.

Whatsapp back online

In one of the many mysterious instances of apps malfunctioning in China for unknown reasons—possibly because they’ve been blocked—Whatsapp started acting strangely on Wednesday. There were reports that text messages could get through, but pictures were all  blocked from being sent. By today, things seemed back to normal.

Funnily enough, the day before these errors occurred, Xinhua referenced errors of a week earlier occurring on Whatsapp in Europe.

Meituan embroiled in Halal hate

For the simple act of separating Halal food from non-Halal food, delivery app Meituan has incurred the wrath of the netizen mob. By stating that their addition of a new Halal channel was intended to “make people eat more safely,” the company seemed to imply that non-Halal food was unsafe, and a wave of online hate poured in. Other commenters indicated that it was discriminatory to meet the dietary needs of one faith’s without catering to all, such as by offering vegetarian options to Buddhists.

Then, the entire affair became tied to extremism as the Global Times weighed in.


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David Dawson is the former deputy editor of The World of Chinese.

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