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Sending this string of emojis in a text message can crash most iPhones or iPads

By midian182 ยท 12 replies
Jan 19, 2017
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  1. An iOS bug has been discovered that allows anyone to crash and freeze an iPhone or iPad simply by sending the device a series of emoji.

    YouTuber EverythingApplePro uploaded a video that reveals the seemingly random string of characters – a waving white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow, and a hidden Unicode character called “variation sector 16” (VS16), which can be copied into an iMessage conversation. When combined and sent to an Apple device, the sequence causes a handset or tablets to seize up and reboot.

    Sending the string via a standard message will only affect iPhones and iPads running iOS 10.1 or below. It requires the sender to do some legwork involving iCloud and the online Notes app, but once someone receives the text, their handset will freeze without them having to open or read it.

    There is, however, a second version of the exploit that works on all versions of iOS 10. It involves embedding the characters in a new contact file and sharing it via iCloud Drive with an iMessage contact, the Guardian reports. This method often isn’t as severe and usually results in the sender’s phone or Mac crashing.

    French iOS developer Vincent Desmurs claims he discovered the bug, which is apparently related to Apple’s  handling of the variation selector and the emojis beside it.

    “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,” he said. “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.”

    Deleting the entire message string will prevent a device from repeatedly crashing, but some users have reported their iPhones constantly lock up, preventing them from taking such action. Others have reported that being sent a new message or creating one with Siri before opening Messages can fix the problem.

    Apple has yet to comment on the bug, but, given that the video’s view count is closing in on one million, you can expect a patch to arrive soon.

    Permalink to story.

  2. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,131   +1,551

    It's only a matter of time before wireless providers to block the string from being delivered.
  3. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,889   +1,162

    Ummmm...then don't send that string of characters?
  4. USAvenger

    USAvenger TS Booster Posts: 88   +89

    What I'm getting from this is that rainbows belong in the sky amongst the clouds and not on a flag.
    Makson, captainload, psycros and 2 others like this.
  5. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 826   +437

    Sorry, can't talk. I'm logging into a bulk message provider to send 10,000 messages.
    Tee Hee
  6. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 978   +324

    Why does this seem to come up for iPhones so often?
    trgz likes this.
  7. andrewdoyle88

    andrewdoyle88 TS Addict Posts: 135   +125

    iPhone users are always looking for ways to brick their devices so they can switch to Android ;)
    Makson and trgz like this.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,684   +3,836

    Well, they're obviously holding their iPhones wrong, but who am I to judge....:D

    Yeah I know, that's become a tired old internet meme. But yet, somehow it seems so appropriate...*nerd*(y)
    trgz and psycros like this.
  9. Makson

    Makson TS Booster Posts: 115   +27

    Tough luck for iPhone users if they want to send messages in sign language. :-()
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,684   +3,836

    I'm desperately trying to resist the urge to start the rumor that if you shake your iPhone really, really hard, it will clear the crash.

    Oh well, since I'm not a member of any social media site, how much damage could I do? :D

    Actually though, if you shake your iPhone really, really hard, it will blow up three lucky 7's, and your phone bill is free for a month! ;)(y)
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,684   +3,836

    In truth, it's tough luck for millennials who have forgotten how how to speak English, and can't communicate without emojis.
  12. Levi Sterling

    Levi Sterling TS Booster Posts: 80   +26

    Hasty generalization, I don't use emoticons and I'm a millennial.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,684   +3,836

    Well then, you're apparently not trying hard enough to fit in... Some people are like that, myself very much so.
    Levi Sterling likes this.

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