Major Apple Bug Causes iPhones, Macs To Freeze with Just One Character
Whether you type it in yourself or receive it in a message, there's one character in the Telugu language of India that appears to crash any Apple device as soon as it appears.
The vulnerability crashes the app in which the character appears and can send the affected device into an endless loop of reboots, according to the Italian blog Mobile World, which reported the issue yesterday. Fixing the problem requires a reset in Device Firmware Upgrade mode, the site added.
Apple has yet to comment on the bug, according to Mobile World. However, the problem does not seem to occur in the latest beta version of the iOS mobile operating system, which indicates Apple is aware of the issue and is preparing to release a fix, Mobile World noted.
No Problems in Beta iOS 11.3
This isn't the first time Apple's software has run afoul of troublesome characters or links. In May 2015, the "Effective Power" vulnerability -- set into motion by receiving a "Unicode of Death" text message -- was found to cause iPhones to repeatedly crash. And in January, a "chaiOS" bug emerged that caused some devices to crash and reboot after users clicked a certain link.
The latest reboot problem is set off when a certain character in Telugu, one of several official primary languages in India that's spoken by an estimated 74 million people, is displayed in a range of applications on Apple devices. Mobile World said its tests showed the bug affected devices running iOS, macOS and watchOS, and crashed applications that included WhatsApp, Twitter, Note, and Safari, among others.
"Both the iPhone and the Mac on which we performed the tests were updated to the latest version of the operating system," the Mobile World report said (according to a Google translation). "It seems, however, that the beta of iOS 11.3 is already immune, which is a good signal."
In a report today, The Verge said the latest Apple vulnerability also blocks access to Messages, as well as to third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger, Gmail, and Outlook for iOS. Skype and Telegram, however, did not appear to be affected, The Verge added.
Ongoing Software Headaches for Apple
The Telugu bug is the latest in a series of recent software problems for Apple. In December, iOS was discovered to be slowing down the processors in older model iPhones to prevent unexpected shutdowns due to aging batteries. Apple apologized for not being more transparent about how it handled performance issues with older phones. The tech giant said its next version of iOS, due later this year, would provide users with more control and visibility regarding battery health.
Last month, senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi was reported to have told Apple engineers the company plans to adjust its software update strategy to put a greater emphasis on minimizing bugs and less of a focus on flashy new features.
That meeting came on the heels of ongoing complaints from Apple users about crashing apps, out-of-order text messages and iPhone X delays in responding to incoming phone calls. Apple's next major software update, iOS 12, is expected to come out this fall.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.