Security

iOS 11 bug crashes your entire iPhone if you receive a message with this one letter

A certain letter in the Indian language Telugu will crash the apps it appears in, and can take down the entire operating system as well.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • A bug in iOS 11 causes app and system crashes if the user received a specific letter from the Indian language Telugu.
  • The iOS bug that crashes an iPhone upon receiving a Telugu letter appears to be fixed in the beta version of iOS 11.3.

A newly discovered bug in iOS 11 causes one particular letter in the Indian language Telugu to crash any app it appears in, and even take down an entire iPhone if it shows up in a notification. First noted by Italian blog Mobile World, simply pasting the character into a text field can be enough to crash an app.

telugu.jpg

This is the offending character.

Image: Phone Arena

The issue appears to be that iOS 11 cannot render the character and, as a response, simply shuts down the app where it appears. For example, if it were sent in a WhatsApp message, the recipient's WhatsApp app would freeze and shut down upon receiving that message.

As noted by Mac Rumors, the bug extends to any text field in iOS—including mobile browsers, proprietary, and third-party apps. If the character shows up in an iOS notification, it could brick the entire phone and potentially force a DFU reset to fix the problem.

The issue, explained on Mobile World, is that the bug in notifications affected SpringBoard, which manages the iOS home screen. If a user receives this character in a notification and SpringBoard is frozen, Mobile World recommends waiting for SpringBoard to restart, "because if you force a reboot of the device, it will bootloop."

The bug affects watchOS and macOS, too, Mobile World reported. They were able to replicate the behavior on Note, Safari, and the App Store on macOS. The authors strongly recommended not trying to replicate the bug.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

The good news is that a fix seems to be underway. Even though at the time of this writing Apple had not publicly addressed the bug, both the iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 betas are immune to it, according to Mac Rumors. So, worried users may want to enroll in the beta program to avoid any problems from this issue.

Both of those updates are due out later in the spring, but it's possible that Apple will push a minor update in the meantime to address the issue.

Also see

ios11bug.jpg
Image: CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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