Jokers are taking advantage of a bug in iOS and have been transmitting messages stuffed with emojis – causing iPhone and iPad user devices to freeze.
The emoji messages in question are full of white flags and rainbows.
The bug has two forms. The first possibility is a text string including a waving white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow and a hidden character (named a variation selector) which is pasted into an iMessage chat and sent out widely to any user. The second possible form is a row of characters, embedded in a contacts file, which can be sent out via the iCloud Drive to an iMessage recipient.
Both versions of the affected message will crash an iPhone or iPad to different extents, although it appears that the text string that goes out purely by iMessage affects only iPhones and iPads operating iOS 10.1 or below. The other text message variant appears to affect all versions of iOS 10, including the latest iOS 10.2 – a report confirmed by the Guardian.
The bug was first reported by reported by YouTuber EverythingApplePro – known for making similar reports for potential crashes on iPhone.
French iOS developer Vincent Desmurs, the person claiming to have made the discovery of the bug – had ideas relating to the root cause of the issue, he said that this may relate to Apple’s handling of the variation selector and the emojis beside it. He said: “What variation selector 16 (VS16) does in this case essentially is tell the device to combine the two surrounding characters into one emoji, yielding the rainbow flag.”
“The text you’re copying is actually a waving white flag, VS16, zero, rainbow emoji. What I’m assuming is happening is that the phone tries to combine the waving white flag and the zero into an emoji, but this obviously can’t be done.”
Recipients of the bug infected messages have experienced either an immediate crash on devices, or one shortly afterwards. It is difficult to avoid a system crash, especially if you are in receipt of the contact file form of text message. Users should delete the entire string of iMessage conversation to avoid further crashes upon re-opening the message. Some users are having issues with this and cannot seem to delete conversations without further crashes. Others have noted being able to create an instruction via Siri before opening Messages, to clear the block.
Apple’s iOS has had issues in the past with abnormal strings of text or videos causing crashes, followed by exploitation by pranksters who turn the situation into an opportunity to trick iPhone and iPad users, creating crashes and other issues.
Apple refused to comment.