The text that can crash your phone

android message

Have you heard that a text message with a certain combination of characters can make your Apple device crash and reboot. Effected devices include iPhones, Apple Watches, and iPads.
The problem is caused by texts that have a specific combination of non-Latin characters including Arabic and Chinese, and Marathi.

When an Apple device brings up text messages in a banner notification, if will typically add an ellipsis to the message, but the part of the operating systems that handles text messages gets confused and overwhelmed by the set of characters and the modifications caused by the ellipsis and will freeze, leading to operating system crashes. Some have reported that their message app will still be frozen after a reboot.
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The worse is that you can’t choose to just not read the message, as you might with a virus sent via email, as its the notification of the message that does the damage. It can also crash your device via Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp. And if your phone is jail-broken, rather than simply crash and reboot, it will restart in safe mode.

Apple’s response

Apple has stated that they are aware of the problem and are working on a solution. They have released a post addressing it on their support page:

If Messages quits unexpectedly after you get a text with a specific string of characters
Apple is aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update. Until the update is available, you can use these steps to re-open the Messages app.
Ask Siri to “read unread messages.”
Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you’ll be able to open Messages again.In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.

While their response indicates they are working on a better response than just ‘let Siri deal with it’, it’s still a pretty crappy response, considering an October 2013 poll of over 2000 Americans found that almost 85 per cent of them don’t use Siri.

Luckily, if you’re in the vast majority who don’t use Apple’s voice ‘personal assistant’, there’s another easy workaround while we wait for Apple to get their act together: just turn off notifications for messages. If you turn off notifications you take away the aforementioned jerks’ ability to crash your phone without you so much as touching the thing. Simple for the time being!