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‘Prank’ Emoji iMessage Is Crashing iPhones And iPads

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Another iMessage bug has been found, affecting most versions of iOS

Yet another prank text that can crash an iPhone has been discovered. This particular jape involves the use of a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji and a hidden character called a ‘variation selector’. 

This sequence can be sent either as a text via iMessage or within a contact file. Both will crash the recipients device, necessitating a reboot.  

It is understood the text will only impact devices running iOS 10.1 or below, but The Guardian has confirmed the contact file method affects all versions – even the latest iteration. 

iMessage 2

iMessage crash 

The only way to stop the issue is to delete the iMessage conversation. And possible stop speaking to the ‘hilarious’ prankster for good. 

An iOS developer says the likely cause of the crashes is the hidden character 

“The text you’re copying is actually a waving white flag, VS16, zero, rainbow emoji. What I’m assuming is happening is that the phone tries to combine the waving white flag and the zero into an emoji, but this obviously can’t be done,” Vincent Desmurrs told the newspaper. 

This is far from the first such incident. In recent years, an SMS with a specific string of Arabic text was found to crash vulnerable iPhones, while other services such as Skype have been found vulnerable. 

Apple had not responded to Silicon’s requests for comment at the time of publication. 

Quiz: What do you know about the history of the iPhone?