There's a new 'text bomb' that will crash iPhones with a single symbol

(Photo by Andrew Mager CC BY SA 2.0)


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Update: Apple released a new version of iOS on Feb. 19 to address the problem.

An Apple bug is crashing applications that display a single letter from the south India language Telugu. The symbol could crash Mac, iOS and iPhone applications just by a person viewing it.

People have been reporting that their devices were affected by the bug when they accessed the symbol via apps such as Twitter, Uber, Gmail, Whatsapp and Instagram — and even caused problems when the symbol was included in a Wi-Fi network’s name. The bug can affect any major app running on the iOS platform.

After the symbol is accessed in an app, the app can’t be reopened and must be reinstalled to temporarily repair the issue, though it will eventually crash again, researchers say. Though the Unicode foreign language symbol doesn’t damage the phone, it can be quite frustrating to deal with since you can’t fix it on your own.

Mobile World was the first to report the glitch. Since the problem first was noted on Thursday, Apple has said it has been solved and an iOS update would be on the way soon. The glitch can be fixed with iOs 11.3, but rather than waiting for its release, Apple is releasing another iOS 11 update before that one. Older versions of iOS seem to be unaffected by the bug.

The Unicode foreign language symbol is not present in beta versions of iOS 11.3, suggesting the problem is isolated to Apple products running iOS 11.2.5—the most recent operating system. Since the Telugu symbol is unrecognizable, it’s causing the operating system to go haywire and ultimately malfunction.

Apple experienced a similar problem in January after security researcher Abraham Masri discovered another  iOS glitch. In that instance, iPhone users were sending “text bombs,” causing iPhones to freeze when recipients opened a URL sent in the message.

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Apple, apps, iOS, iPhone, vulnerabilities