Indian Text Character Crashes Many iOS and macOS Apps

Greg Lawrence
February 17, 2018

The bug affects iPhones, iPads, Macs and other devices running iOS 11.2.5 and occurs when a when a specific Indian-language character is sent to handsets.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The symbol eventually crashes the iOS SpringBoard application, which is responsible for managing the home screen and launching apps, and the crashes can sometimes be so severe that users have to put their devices into recovery mode to fix it.

The bug, referred to as a "text bomb", was first reported on Italian blog Mobile World.

The symbol is also capable of disabling WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Outlook for iOS and Gmail. The app on which you received the message becomes frozen and inaccessible as the app tries and fails to load the character.

9to5Mac notes that Apple hasn't revealed a deadline for when updates to current application on the market should cater to the iPhone X's unique display, but those that do will benefit from its features, including Core ML, SiriKit and ARKit.

The character which causes the problem is used in the written version of an Indian language spoken by approximately 70 million people.

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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.

This is the latest in the fairly long line of many similar bugs which allow attackers to crash an iOS device by sending a simple text message. The Verge reports that Telegram and Skype are unaffected.

The only way to escape this cycle is to get someone else to message you and delete the thread containing the malicious message.

Apple users beware - there's a new bug crashing iPhones. This suggests that Apple is already aware of the issue.

The moment a text with the bug is received, the app that opened the text crashes.

Interestingly, Apple has not disclosed anything about existing apps which may need to update with iPhone X support and iOS 11 SDK.

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