New Bug Crashes Smartphones of Unsuspecting Users

A commonly used app is the source of the problem. Here's what you need to know to protect your iPhone from infection.

New Bug Crashes Smartphones of Unsuspecting Users Photo (cc) by Yeray Hernández

This is one case where you can blame the messenger — and the Messages app.

A new bug is reportedly causing iPhones and the Apple Messages app to crash repeatedly when they receive a specific string of symbols and Arabic Unicode characters via standard text messaging, or via i Message, which is part of the Messages app.

The iMessage feature allows iPhone users to send messages, photos and other information back and forth with people using various types of Mac devices.

The website MacRumors reports:

Sending the string of characters to an iPhone results in an immediate respring, causing an iPhone to crash and quickly reboot. From there, if the Messages app was opened at a list view, the Messages app crashes automatically when you try to open it. If it was opened to the conversation where you received the message, the app will open, but attempting to go to another conversation causes Messages to crash.

Pranksters and other troublemakers are most likely to send the Unicode string, which you can see here.

The website iMore reports that the bug is crashing not only the iPhone, but also the iPad and the Apple Watch.

An unidentified Apple spokesperson tells iMore:

We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update.

Meanwhile, MacRumors has tested the bug on iPhones running the iOS 8.3 operating system and reports some potential fixes have helped some people clear malicious messages.

  • If Messages was opened to the conversation with the person who sent the offending message, reopen the app to that conversation and send a reply.
  • If Messages was opened to the conversation list view and therefore crashed when you reopened it, have someone send you a message or send one to yourself. (You can send yourself a message by telling Siri to “send a message to myself” and then to send a message of “fix,” or by using the share feature of the Notes app.)

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Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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