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Apple just disabled Walkie Talkie on Watch due to an iPhone eavesdropping vulnerability

Published Jul 11th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
Apple Watch Walkie Talkie
Image: PAUL BRAVEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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The Apple Watch has a neat new app that lets you talk to your friends called Walkie Talkie. It’s not a phone calls app, although the Watch can do that too. Instead, it’s just a simple app that lets you send quick thoughts via voice back and forth. It works a lot like the old push-to-talk (PTT) phones, but it all happens on your wrist. However, you won’t be able to use it for the time being, as Apple has disabled the watchOS 5 functionality because of a new newly discovered vulnerability that would allow others to listen to your iPhone without consent.

Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that it has removed the functionality to fix the bug:

We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.

It’s unclear how the app can be abused to spy on someone’s iPhone, but Apple says there’s no evidence it was exploited in the wild.

The Walkie Talkie app will remain installed on the Watch until Apple releases the fix, but it won’t be functional until an update is released.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.