Apple Assists Users With iPhone Message Crashes - InformationWeek
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5/30/2015
11:05 AM
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Apple Assists Users With iPhone Message Crashes

Users who receive a text message with a specific string of characters find the text crashes iMessage -- Apple has issued instructions for a temporary fix.

10 iPhone Apps You've Never Heard Of
10 iPhone Apps You've Never Heard Of
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The latest bug to plague consumers centers on a string of text that, when received, causes the user's iPhone to crash. But now Apple is coming to the rescue by posting an official support document.

If the Messages application quits unexpectedly after getting a text with a specific string of characters, users can ask Siri, the phone's digital concierge, to "read unread messages," then use Siri to reply to the malicious message.

After sending the reply, the user should be able to open Messages again. However, if the issue continues, Apple says to tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.

Apple has yet to make available a more permanent solution to the problem.

(Image: Peter Burnett/iStockphoto)

(Image: Peter Burnett/iStockphoto)

"Apple is aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters, and we will make a fix available in a software update," the company wrote on the help page. "Until the update is available, you can use these steps to re-open the Messages app."

The bug, which causes Apple devices to crash after receiving a string of specific characters from Arabic, Marathi, and Chinese languages, affects not only the iPhone but also the iPad, Apple Watch and Mac computers, and The Guardian reported that it can also affect apps on iOS, including Snapchat and Twitter.

"The booby-trapped message can be sent over Twitter, as highlighted to the Guardian by the security researcher Mikko Hypponen, either using direct messages or public mentions," according to the May 29 article. "If the recipient uses an iPhone and has notifications turned on, a message will instantly crash their smartphone. The message did not cause lasting damage in our testing."

Earlier this year, the company attempted to beef up security for FaceTime and iMessage by adding a two-factor authentication option to the two applications.

Two-step verification is an additional security feature for a user's Apple ID that's designed to prevent anyone from accessing or using the user's account, even if they know the user's password. It requires users to verify their identity using one of their devices or another approved method before they can sign into various applications, or make an iTunes, iBooks, or App Store purchase from a new device.

Apple's main rival in the smartphone space, Google, also offers a two-factor authentication option for its Android operating system with the Authenticator app, which requires a code generated by the app in addition to the user's account password.

[Read about Apple's latest acquisition.]

This is the second time this month that an Apple product has come under scrutiny by security researchers. It turns out that the Apple Watch, one of the company's most expensive pieces of hardware, lacks Activation Lock, which means if the watch is stolen, a thief can wipe it clean and then pair it with another iPhone.

While personal information on the watch is likely safe, someone may still decide to rip the hardware off your wrist.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
6/1/2015 | 12:53:56 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
The reason Steve switched to Unix was Unix almost can't be crashed. I have never seen kernal panic (unless there is a hardware problem). 

Congrats to Apple.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 3:41:21 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
As a user why would I go for such cumbersome steps. Its good they have identified it and accepted it. They should rollout the update for it soon.
Angelfuego
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50%
Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 2:35:50 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
I am glad that Apple recognized the issue and is working towards a solution.
shakeeb
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50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 12:28:24 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
@tzubair – I still feel compared to Windows, Apple still has very few bugs. Windows usually have versions released for users to test and send crash reports. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 12:26:06 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
@SunithaT- Most of apple users are strong apple believers, I think they would give Apple a chance to fix their issues before moving to another brand.
shakeeb
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50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 12:23:29 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
I am glad that Apple is communicating this to their users without just ignoring them while they work on a fix. 
tzubair
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50%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 4:12:42 AM
Re: Fun with bugs
"This story should be subtitled "Crashing an allegedly uncrashable OS."  The only other OS crash that would bring out the Windows fanbois to gloat would be a bug that wipes clean a Linux based OS"

@asksqn: I actually had the same thought while going through the blog. The Apple fanboys have forever made fun of how unstable Windows is and how stupid bugs like these can cause malfunctioning. It's time to reply back to them about how iOS isn't as secure as it is assumed to be.
SunitaT0
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50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 2:54:46 PM
Re: Fun with bugs
I think it is bad enough for Apple to have this kind of a setback because Apple is a highly valued brand and now people are going to think twice and refer to Apple as "the brand that can be hacked by a message". Apple needs to sort it out double time. 
asksqn
50%
50%
asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2015 | 2:21:59 PM
Fun with bugs
This story should be subtitled "Crashing an allegedly uncrashable OS."  The only other OS crash that would bring out the Windows fanbois to gloat would be a bug that wipes clean a Linux based OS.
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