A message containing Italian Flag, Sindhi Characters Is Crashing iPhone and iPads
Don’t know if it was developed and circulated as a prank but a new ‘text bomb’ message can crash Apple devices working on iOS. In 2018, we had a ‘Telugu Bomb’ – a message with Telugu characters which cause large scale crashes in iPhones and iPads. Now we have an Italian Flag and a couple of Sindhi language scripts that cause the iOS run devices to crash.
As you can see from the image below, a message has to contain the Italian flag and some Sindhi characters
The text bomb was captured live on video by a Twitter user and tweeted.
The craziest iOS crash text bug 💀 pic.twitter.com/29LJPb67WP
— EverythingApplePro (@EveryApplePro) April 23, 2020
A reddit poster said that the text bomb for iPhones appeared at first on the instant messaging app Telegram. Pranksters immediately copied it and circulated it through other social media Apps like Twitter, WhatsApp, and iMessage as well.
Apple engineers should be working on the fix for this latest text bomb. But it is possible to create infinite variations of the text and fixing all the variations could be difficult. Last time around Apple fixed the Telugu text bomb by relying on hardcoded strings but since that text bomb had limited character length and variations it was easy to fix. This latest text bomb can have infinite text variations of the Sindhi language and hardcoding is going to be ineffective to control every new variation. Most likely, Apple will release the fix for the message circulating around but this is only going to work for the first few hours till pranksters discover other variations of the text bomb.
For those who own iPhone and iPad, this text bomb affects only if you are on iOS 13.x. Other versions like 12.x.x. seem to be unaffected by this bug. Even iOS v 13.5 (beta) is unaffected by this text bomb.
However, some iPhone owners having iOS 12.4 said that that text bomb works only if sent through Facebook or Twitter and not from iMessage. Android smartphones can send and receive this message without any hitch.
Here is the raw image of the text bomb without the Italian flag. This is for educational purposes only, do not use it to crash iOS devices.
Using the Sindhi text variations can cause the same crash as the original text being circulated. We have purposefully removed the Italian flag so you can read this post on your iPhone/iPad without being subjected to a crash.
The temporary fix for iPhone Text Bomb
The easy way is to allow notifications on your device but to disable the message previews. This can be done from every app prone to this bug, including messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger, but also email clients like Mail. The crash can be triggered by pretty much any app that can generate a message preview which includes the deadly characters.
For WhatsApp, go to settings as below :
WhatsApp > Settings > Notifications > Show Preview > Disable
Remember, you can now only view WhatsApp messages by opening the App.
Single click approach to disable all App notifications :
iPhone > Settings > Notifications > Show Previews > Never
You can block all the notifications till Apple releases a fix.
If you are affected by the bug, rebooting your iPhone will solve the problem temporarily. Just don’t open such text messages again till Apple engineers have a head over what is happening. A Reddit user, u/-MTAC- has released a tweak for the text bomb. If you are a seasoned programmer, you can apply it. Don’t use it unless you know to code.