In release notes for iOS 12.1.2 that were exclusive to China, Apple has all-but confirmed that the update brought changes that address patent issues with Qualcomm. The release of 12.1.2 on Monday was global and was for iPhones. In the release notes that went out globally, the bulk of the fixes outlined were around eSIM activation issues. There was also a fix for cellular connectivity in Turkey in the update.
In China however, there was an additional item: Introduces a new animation when force closing apps
This item specifically addresses a patent held by Qualcomm in China that is at the center of the controversy. It is on this patent that the chip maker was able to get a temporary sales ban of older iPhone models in the country. It is clear that Apple is trying to get around the issue with this new animation in iOS 12.1.2 as the previous close animation – which previously simply disappeared when swiped up – was close in functionality to the patent in question. Now in China, when you close an app, it shrinks and disappears.
Technically the sales ban is still in place in China but with this change in iOS it is likely that Apple will seek to get it lifted. For their part, Qualcomm has suggested Apple has flaunted the courts ruling and has continued to sell previous iPhone models in the country. Apple has denied the claim.
All of this is part of a protracted battled between the two companies. They are set to go to court here in the United States in April 2019 over alleged royalties and patent infringements.