Serious FaceTime Bug Lets You Hear a Person's Audio Before They Answer [Update: And See Video]

There's a major bug in FaceTime right now that lets you connect to someone and hear their audio without the person even accepting the call.

This bug is making the rounds on social media, and as 9to5Mac points out, there are major privacy concerns involved. You can force a ‌FaceTime‌ call with someone and hear what they're saying, perhaps even without their knowledge.

We tested the bug at MacRumors and were able to initiate a ‌FaceTime‌ call with each other where we could hear the person on the other end without ever having pressed the button to accept the call. To exploit the bug, all you have to do is add your own phone number to a ‌FaceTime‌ call you've already initiated, which apparently creates a major ‌FaceTime‌ issue.

These are the steps:

1. Initiate a ‌FaceTime‌ call with someone.
2. While the call is ringing, swipe up from the bottom of the display.
3. Tap on the "Add Person" button.
4. Add your own phone number when it asks for the number of the person to add.

Adding your own phone number to Group ‌FaceTime‌ a second time causes the call between both parties to connect. You can hear the person on the other end and they can hear you, even though the call wasn't accepted.

What it looks like when you initiate a Group ‌FaceTime‌ call using this bug. With this screen up, you can hear the audio of the person on the other end.

When you force a connection this way, your screen looks like a standard Group ‌FaceTime‌ call sans video, but on the other person's screen, it still looks like the call hasn't been accepted.

This is what it looks like for the person you're FaceTiming. They can't tell their audio is accessible.

For this reason, the other person can't necessarily tell that you're listening in to their audio, which has huge privacy implications, especially because the ringing stops as soon as the bug is initiated. We were able to get this to work on various iOS devices running iOS 12.1.3 and iOS 12.2, and on a Mac running the latest version of macOS Mojave.

There appears to be no way to avoid this bug short of disabling FaceTime on iOS and macOS entirely, so it's likely Apple will implement a fix quickly. This bug is an audio only bug, so the person FaceTiming you does not get access to your video feed.

We do not recommend or condone following these above steps to invade on other peoples' privacy, and we are sharing them only so MacRumors readers can be aware of the issue to protect themselves.

Update: As The Verge points out, you can also covertly see someone's video. If you follow the steps above and the person on the other end presses the power button on their device to make the call go away, it activates their video. Once their video is activated, all sound is muted, so there is no indication on their end that their video is visible to a third-party person who has FaceTimed them.


The video above demonstrates the issue and how easy it is to execute with just a few taps in the ‌FaceTime‌ app.

Update 2: Apple appears to have temporarily addressed the issue by disabling Group ‌FaceTime‌ calls server side. On Apple's System Status page, Group ‌FaceTime‌ is now listed as unavailable.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
22 months ago
Ooops NSA technical surveillance feature set accidentally exposed. Bugfix will fix it soon.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
Gotta love Apple's integrated approach. Seriously, enough is enough. Fire Tim Cook, fire Jony Ive, fire Craig Federighi. Bring back Scott Forstall. This is what happens when you have a fashion designer run a COMPUTER company.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
Some pretty sad comments from Apple defenders here:

* It's not that bad, you don't even lose data.
* I don't even use FaceTime so it's not a big deal.
* It's going to get patched, not a big deal.
* All software has problems.
* Yeah, but, Google, Android, but...
* I have nothing to hide, who cares.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

You may not understand that despite loads of QC, beta testings, etc, software bugs still manage to slip through under the right set of conditions and circumstances. Especially with respect to complex software.

I've yet to see 100% perfection. From anyone.

You may totally miss the point.

Accessing a user’s phone’s mic without them interacting/allowing it is so against all iOS conventions and far beyond a simple bug.

Nothing should ever happen on my side of that call if I don’t move that darn slider.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

Hilarious bug. What’s with all this beta testing and public beta testing and this stuff goes through? Yeah yeah...QC.

You may not understand that despite loads of QC, beta testings, etc, software bugs still manage to slip through under the right set of conditions and circumstances. Especially with respect to complex software.

I've yet to see 100% perfection. From anyone.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
+1 kudos for posting the steps, yeah! ;)
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Here Are All of the New Apple Watch Faces Apple Announced Today

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:55 pm PDT by
Apple today announced the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which will be compatible with new watch faces that are being introduced in the watchOS 7 update set to be released tomorrow. Apple has provided a video highlighting all of the new Apple Watch faces, with details on each one. GMT - The GMT face shows multiple time zones at once, while also taking into...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....