A new iOS bug has cropped up, and it is freezing iPhone and iPad devices via a simple text message – that is not so simple to send however. An innocent looking three symbol rainbow message is causing havoc among users, as it is freezing iPhone and iPad models, and in some cases, rendering it useless without a fix.
YouTuber EverythingApplePro has brought this bug to the masses, and claims that by sending a white flag emoji, a zero, and a rainbow emoji in one message (in that order), it will crash any iPhone running on iOS 8 and above.
The iPhone or iPad freezes as soon as the message arrives on the device. The YouTuber demoed the iOS bug in detail in his video, showing exactly how it works. He sent the malicious text message through his iPhone to another, and as soon as the text message arrived on the device, it completely froze. The recipient did not get a pop-down notification of a text message, or even the chance to go into the Messages app to open it. The text message instantly crashed the iPhone without any warning.
The message can be sent in in two forms – one is the text string we mentioned above. It includes a waving white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow and a hidden character called a variation selector. This can be put into any iMessage chat and sent to anyone. The other way is to embed this text string into a contact file and shared on iMessage via iCloud Drive. The iOS bug was discovered by Vincent Desmurs, who has also published fixes (and the malicious contact file) on his blog.
The Guardian reports that the first method will affect iPhone and iPad devices with iOS 10.1 or below (till iOS 8), and the contact card variant will affect all versions of iOS 10, including the latest iOS 10.2 version – Desmurs says the bug works for devices running even the 10.2.1 beta 2 version, though beta 3 has the issue patched..
This bug, however, freezes the iPhone and iPad only momentarily. The YouTuber claims that the iPhone goes useless for a maximum of three minutes (depending on the iOS version), after which it springs back to life automatically. He claims that this message is being used by many as a prank to scare their friends.
This freezing of the iPhone is caused due to difficulty in reading the message in question. The iPhone try to create a rainbow flag with the text, and is trying to combine all the three symbols to make it. Difficulty in doing so causes the phone to hang completely, albeit just for a while. The contact file method however may require a fix, which Desmurs includes in his post.
“When your victim clicks on the message, their Messages app will attempt to load a large amount of data that couses the system malfunction. However the text in the file is very complicated for the system and causes a CPU average and freezing the app. If you close the app and try to reopen it, iOS will try to reload the previous message but can’t because it’s the same file containing too much text for the system to handle properly,” Desmurs explains in his post.