Text Message Bug Can Crash Your iPhone

Today in "how did they even think to do this?" news, consider the texting bug that crashes iPhones with a string of random Arabic, Hindi, Roman and Chinese letters. Receiving this message will reboot your iPhone and make checking your text messages difficult, but there are ways around it, if you're willing to be a little creative.

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An alert Reddit user pointed out the flaw, which then opened up the floor for potential solutions. It seems that if you text a specific string of characters to an iPhone, the phone will crash, then reboot. After that, the Messages app will crash each time you try to open it. You can send the text from either an iPhone or an Android phone, and it seems to affect both current and older versions of iOS.

Apple is supposedly already working on a fix (or may have even implemented one; some users report no ill effects from the text), but until then, you have options if you've been hit. After your phone reboots, all you have to do is receive another text, which will supersede the nonsense string.

If you don't have a friend, family member or coworker nearby to text you, you can send yourself a text from another app. Ask Siri to compose a text to yourself, or send an attachment (like a photo) from another program. That should make the Messages app accessible again.

There's no real exploit here; Messages (and, it seems, WhatsApp on iOS) just can't parse certain text strings. Expect a fix soon, but there's some mischief to be made in the meantime.

UPDATE 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday: According to information being passed around on Twitter, the text-crash can be partially prevented by going into Settings, then Notifications, then Messages, and switching Show Previews to OFF. That will make sure your iPhone won't crash as soon as it receives a malicious message. However, if you check the messages manually and view the text at issue, the phone will reboot as before.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.