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This text message with an Italian flag could crash your iPhone

Published Apr 24th, 2020 5:25PM EDT
iPhone text message crash bug
Image: Zach Epstein for BGR

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  • A new text message crash bug for Apple devices has been going viral this week.
  • Similar to the Telugu bug from 2018, the text string features unique characters that can cause the iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch to crash upon receiving a notification with it present.
  • Apple has yet to respond or issue a fix, but the bug doesn’t work on the latest iOS beta.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Over the years, we’ve reported on a number of text message bugs capable of crashing iPhones and iPads. Way back in 2015, the so-called “effective power” bug was able to crash iOS devices when a text was received while a user was anywhere other than the Messages app. Three years later, a specific Telugu character was used to crash a variety of messaging apps. The only way to get back into the app was to access the service from a different device and delete the message with the character, as it would repeatedly crash the iOS app while present.

Now, in the middle of a global pandemic, yet another one of these weird bugs has arisen. As 9to5Mac explains, if you receive the text string in a notification on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or even Apple Watch, you may begin to experience some issues. This can include crashes and the device failing to respond to touch inputs.

In a Reddit thread promoting a fix for the text bug, there are suggestions that the string has been spreading in a Telegram group chat, but it’s unclear if that’s where it originated. Regardless, it has since gone viral on social media, so do not go looking for it unless you want to risk crashing your device. We aren’t going to share the text here (I don’t want my phone or computer crashing, after all), but the string includes an Italian flag and Sindhi language characters. You can actually see the bug in action in the following video from Everything Apple Pro:

According to 9to5Mac, the bug has apparently been resolved in the latest iOS 13.4.5 beta, but if you aren’t up to date on Apple’s mobile beta releases, you might want to disable notifications until Apple rolls out a fix. That way the phone won’t crash or go wonky as soon as you receive the text. Unfortunately, there are no preemptive measures you can take. As with previous text bugs, all you can do is hope no one sends it to you.

Apple has yet to issue a response, but if you want to be safe, you can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program and install the latest version of the operating system on your iPhone and/or iPad. This might be overkill (unless you were already staying up to date on iOS betas), but it’s definitely an option.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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