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
15 months ago
Ooops NSA technical surveillance feature set accidentally exposed. Bugfix will fix it soon.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 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
15 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
15 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
15 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
15 months ago
+1 kudos for posting the steps, yeah! ;)
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Acquires Weather App Dark Sky

Tuesday March 31, 2020 10:22 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has acquired weather app Dark Sky, Dark Sky's developers announced today. Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps on the App Store, known for its accuracy and storm warnings. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no ...

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Case for Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Shows Up at Best Buy With Alleged April 5 Stock Date

Monday March 30, 2020 4:25 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has a new low-cost iPhone in the works, which is supposed to be launching sometime in the first half of 2020. Given the ongoing situation in the United States and other countries, it's been unclear if the device is going to launch within the planned timeline, but there are signs that it could be coming soon. We started seeing cases for the new low-cost iPhone back in early February,...

Testing Brydge's New Pro+ Keyboard With Trackpad for iPad Pro

Monday March 30, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Well ahead of when Apple introduced trackpad support in iOS 13.4, Brydge announced an iPad Pro keyboard with a built-in multi-touch trackpad. We have one of Brydge's new Pro+ keyboards on hand, and thought we'd check it out to see how it works with Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Brydge Pro+ keyboard is similar in design to...

Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Monday March 30, 2020 11:58 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg. Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...

2020 iPad Pro Teardown Provides Closer Look at LiDAR Scanner and Confirms Incremental Update

Saturday March 28, 2020 9:56 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
iFixit today shared a video teardown of the new iPad Pro, which Apple unveiled earlier this month. iFixit found that most of the internals of the 2020 iPad Pro are the same as the 2018 model, confirming that the device is a relatively incremental update. The most notable new feature seen inside the new iPad Pro was the LiDAR scanner, which measures the distance to surrounding objects up...

Apple Configurator 2 Updated With New Features, Including Support for Restoring Firmware on 2019 Mac Pro

Tuesday March 31, 2020 5:34 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple Configurator 2 has been updated to version 2.12 with several improvements, including support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro. The release notes:• Added support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro • Allow access to websites using TLS 1.0 and 1.1 • VPN: Configure Provider Designated Requirement for Custom SSL connection type • VPN: Configure network options for ...

U.S. Government Using Mobile Ad Location Data to Track Compliance With Curbs on Movement

Monday March 30, 2020 4:48 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
The U.S. government is using smartphone location data from the mobile ad industry to track people's movements amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Local governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received the anonymized data about people in areas of "geographic interest," with the aim being to create a portal of geolocation...