Apple is working to fix a bug that can turn off an iPhone and crash the iMessage app

A new messaging bug has emerged that can crash iPhones and iPads – or even switch them off.

Although it appears to be a harmless string of words and Arabic characters, just receiving the text will cause an iPhone with its screen locked to reboot without warning, or, if the iPhone is on, freeze or crash when a notification banner is displayed. Unfortunately, if the notification is displayed again when the phone restarts, it can get into a cycle of repeated crashes, effectively making your handset unusable.

The bug stems from how iOS’s notifications present unicode text, so it should affect iPads too. Reporters at the Guardian have even been able to replicate the bug using an Apple Watch, but the iPhone appears to be the worst affected.

There are also differing reports on whether it’s simply an iPhone to iPhone phenomenon or if it can be triggered by SMS texts from an Android handset or Windows Phone.


A fix in the works?

The issue is already trending on Twitter, and naturally enough many people have sent the message to others as a practical joke. Although Apple hasn’t yet come up with a fix, in an email to Reuters an Apple representative wrote “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.” In the meantime, there are a few ways of quick-fixing an affected iPhone.

The bug only works when the message is displayed as a notification or on the Messages app, so asking somebody to send you another message will break the cycle of crashes. Removing banner alerts or intercepting the message on an Apple Watch or Messages Mac app will work too.

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