Apple Releases iOS, macOS Fixes For Telugu ‘Text Bomb’ Bug

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The issue meant a single character in the Indian language Telugu would cause applications on iPhones, iPads or Macs to freeze

Apple has released updates to iOS and macOS fixing an embarrassing bug that caused applications to crash when they received a single character in the Indian language Telugu.

The bug is fixed in iOS version 11.2.6 and macOS version 10.13.3, both now available for download.

Apple said the Telugu text, which it described as a “maliciously crafted string”, would lead to heap corruption, a type of memory corruption issue. The problem was addressed through improving input validation, Apple said.

In both iOS and macOS, the input bug was fixed by modifying the Core Text framework, which handles text layout and fonts in the operating systems.

App freeze

Apple said the problem doesn’t affect versions of macOS earlier than 10.13.3.

On iOS, the apps that crashed included Messages, Safari, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, while other software including Telegram and Skype wasn’t affected.

Users reported that the only way to regain full use of their device was to delete the conversation that contained the Telugu character.

The iOS patch also includes an additional fix that addresses an issue that prevented some third-party apps from properly connecting to external accessories, Apple said.

iOS 11.2.6 follows about a month after version 11.2.5, which introduced support for the Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, updates to the Control Centre, Siri and other components.

Apple also introduced minor updates to the Apple TV and Apple Watch, tvOS 11.2.6 and watchOS 4.2.3, which fix the Telugu bug. The TV device update is available via its Settings app and the new watchOS version can be downloade via the Watch iOS app.

History of ‘text bomb’ flaws

The Telugu crash flaw was first made public late last week after being discovered by developers of the Aloha browser. It’s similar to a string of other bugs that disabled Apple software.

Last month a string of code posted on GitHub was found to cause iPhones or Macs to crash.

Another bug uncovered in January of last year meant a text message containing a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji and a hidden character called a ‘variation selector’ would cause iPhones to freeze, necessitating a reboot.

In 2015 the ‘effective power’ iMessage flaw caused iOS devices to crash when a user received certain text, and earlier that year Macs and iPhones were found to crash when they viewed a string of Arabic characters.

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