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Apple comments on iOS 8 unicode crash bug, fix in the works

Update: An Apple spokesperson told iMore:

We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update.

The bug occurs when your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch (which runs a variant of iOS 8) receives a message containing the specific string of Unicode characters. Because the specific string can't be rendered, the app crashes or the system restarts.

Note: We're updating this and our how to fix iOS 8 Unicode Messages crash bug help article with new and better information as it becomes available.

Unicode is the standard way to encode, exchange, decode, and render text for most languages around the world. CoreText is typically what Apple uses to render Unicode, and it appears that the Messages app and notifications that attempt to display the bad string will cause the program manager and windowing system (Springboard) to crash, re-spring, or reboot.

It's possible other apps that render the string in the same way might also be affected. In iMore's testing, we managed to find a few other apps that crashed as a result of trying to display the string, but most didn't, and no other app's notifications resulted in a crash.

Apple will be addressing the bug with a software update.

In the meantime, to prevent reboots from the lock screen, turn off lock screen notifications:

For Apple Watch crashes, turn off Messages notifications in the Apple Watch for iPhone app:

Note: Unless you have reason to believe you're a target, you probably only need to do this until your friends' attention span lapses and they move on to the next prank.

If you've already received the bad Unicode string maliciously or as a prank, send yourself or have someone else send you a clean message to the same app. This can be done from a different device, including a Mac, with Siri, or from the Share Sheet from another app (like Photos).

That should fix the notification crashes, but you still won't be able to open any conversation or screen that contains the bad string.

If you've been affected by the bug, or found any other fixes, please let us know.

Nick Arnott contributed to this article.

Via: Apple Insider

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

22 Comments
  • I have definitely been a victim of this bug on my 5S after the latest update. Sometimes the messages app will simply show a blank screen though you can see the "unread badge". There's no way you can make it work. You cannot read a single message. You have to Reboot your phone. Highly frustrating. Sent from the iMore App
  • I received the message last night conveniently replicated by @boovieh above and my iPhone 6 rebooted after a couple seconds. At that point I didn't know what was going on and I received another iMessage so I guess that stopped the iPhone from rebooting again. I then read about the bug and deleted the offending message and everything is fine. My question is... how is this replicated? Do people have to send the string or is it more malicious than that? It does not appear that the iMessage replicated itself after I received it and deleting it seemed to stop it...?
  • The string only needs to be sent by someone (even a random person) to your iPhone as a text. If the text appears as a banner notification, the app which sent the notification will continually crash. The only fix is to send a message to the same chat line via Siri or a share extension. If you have a Mac (do I have to ask?), you can see the text in the messages app on that, and if you send a reply to the malicious text with the Mac app, it should fix your iPhone crashes. Sent from the iMore App
  • I tried that but the app keeps crashing as soon as I open it! I sent a message to myself using Siri and have gotten almost 200 text messages. I sent a photo to others and shared contacts! I did find a way to have a convorsation with my friend tho. I went to the "phone" app, selected the person I wanted to text, hit "share contact", then typed in the person I wanted to text, deleted the contact info and typed what I wanted to say. That was highly annoying. I did manage to text the person that sent it to me back but still nothing happened... Any take on this?
  • On my iPhone5s I had been sent this message by multiple people in a group chat and there were different variants of this string and it made my phone reboot but I tried to open the app and it just seems to crash every time I want to open it. Any suggestions on how to fix this?
  • Messages finally stopped crashing on me after I received text messages from enough over people to push the offending conversation out of view. On my iPhone 6, it looks like 9 conversations was the magic number to get the crashing one off-screen.
  • No need for the long string, this below works just as well: [redacted - Rene] Also seems to impact many other iOS apps and a few OS X ones as well. Confirmed to crash an Apple Watch and also causes a nuisance to iOS users if it is set as a wifi hotspot name.
  • If this happened on Android, Rene would be reporting on it right now. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • But... aren't they reporting it right now?
  • Does anyone know when the software update will come out?
  • Love the censorship here, keeps me coming back for more... Posted via S6 Edge
  • None of the Googled fixes is working for me: texting self, sending/receiving pic messages to offender, turning off lock screen notifications, etc. Even erased and restored and messages still not working
  • Got the exact same problem
  • After Messages not being usable all day, I seem to have finally had enough conversations to push the conversation offscreen and now Messages launches fine. It will crash again if I scroll down to the bad conversation though.
  • I've got the exact same problem, I tried everything and it still doesn't work please help me fix!
  • omg soccer moms everywhere are very confused
  • FOUND A FIX SUPER EASY!!!!!! Hey guys!!! Someone sent me this text message and my messages app crashes as well and I fixed it very and easy and simple no joke!! Just restore your phone!!! Everything will work perfectly fine afterwards.
  • This is algo happening with the Whatsapp messaging app, not only Messages.
  • Wow if this happened to Android Rene would have ten stories about how this would never happen to Apple. And how Apple just works. And how Apple won't release half baked software. Followed by ten more stories how it is a security and privacy feature.. Finally ending the series of stories with how Samsung is shamelessly trying to copy the crashing bug. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • +1 Posted via S6 Edge
  • I was very aggravated when a "friend" did this to me this morning. Everything crashed. Then he goes on about how funny it is that everyone rails on android bugs but here's one for apple. Yah, I said, one. Maybe it's more telling that it makes a headline when apple gets a bug because it is so much more secure and rare.
  • I was sending this phrase to various apps (to myself) as an experiment. (It's dangerous and don't do this if you didn't backed up your iPhone )
    And I found that this bug is related to UITableviewcell class which is kind of text rendering unit of iOS.
    My Telegram, Kakaotalk, Facebook messenger, Chrome URL box, Safari URL box, and many others have been crashed when I paste those phrase or re-enter from home screen.
    This is kind of serous Unicode rendering bug, maybe related to Arabic right-to-left transition mechanism in UITableviewcell class. Tip. If you want to escape from non-functioning , then you will need to gather people who knows your contact address, let them send plain messages or photos via those applications. If those messages occupy one screen's height enough (somebody said it's about 9 peoples messages) , then iPhone doesn't need to render the phrase in the Viewwillappear (initial) function, It would be okay.
    Next, you should delete the phrase or his/her message session itself.
    If one continuously send that phrase then you should block him/her until Apple releases patch, I think