A new messaging bug has emerged that can crash and reboot iPhones and iPads – but Apple now has a workaround.
Although it appears to be a harmless string of words and Arabic characters, simply receiving the text will cause an iPhone with its screen locked to reboot without warning or, if the iPhone is on, freeze or crash when a notification banner is displayed.
That’s not all. Unfortunately, if the notification is displayed again when the phone restarts, it can get into a cycle of repeated crashes, effectively making your handset unusable.
The bug stems from how iOS's notifications present unicode text,meaning it should affect iPads too. Reporters at The Guardian have even been able to replicate the bug using an Apple Watch, but the iPhone appears to be the worst affected.
There are also differing reports on whether it’s simply an iPhone-to-iPhone phenomenon or if it can be triggered by SMS texts from an Android handset or Windows Phone.
Apple now claims to have come up with an official workaround. Displayed on Apple’s support page, it advises affected iPhone owners to use Siri to read unread messages and then reply to the error-causing message. Users will be then able to open the iMessage app, where they can delete the entire conversation thread – or just the malicious message.
As well as Apple’s official workaround, users have found several other fixes. The bug only works when the message is displayed as a notification or on the iMessages app, so asking someone to send you another message will break the cycle of crashes. Removing banner alerts or intercepting the message on an Apple Watch or Messages Mac app will work too.