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Apple Temporarily Disables Walkie-Talkie App for Apple Watch Due to Eavesdropping Vulnerability

Apple has disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch due to a bug that could allow users to eavesdrop on others, reports TechCrunch.


The company issued a statement noting that it was just notified about the vulnerability and has temporarily disabled the Walkie-Talkie functionality while a fix is developed. The Walkie-Talkie app will remain installed on users' Apple Watches, but it will not be functional until the fix is deployed.

Apple's statement:
We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.
Walkie-Talkie debuted last fall in watchOS 5, and it allows users to easily communicate with each other via voice from their wrists using a push-to-talk function.


As TechCrunch points out, the issue is reminiscent of a serious Group FaceTime bug discovered early this year that could allow callers to hear a user's audio without the call being accepted. In that scenario, Apple remotely disabled Group FaceTime once the issue was discovered, and pushed out an emergency bug fix a week and a half later as part of iOS 12.1.4.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

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6 weeks ago
Toxic comments as usual. This is a standard process when a critical bug is found. No company is bug-free even if you have a robust QA process in place. Anybody who worked in a bit more complex software development can relate to this, often you find bugs that could have been in the code for years.
Rating: 34 Votes
6 weeks ago
I’ve honestly never used the feature. None of friends or peers use it either. Is anybody else not missing this?
Rating: 23 Votes
6 weeks ago

Is Apple becoming the new Microsoft of old? Bug ridden software, slowly being hacked away. Even the official statement contradicts itself. What is going on over there?


Using the phrase bug ridden software is just hyperbolic IMHO.

They found a bug, they temporarily disabled an app to prevent issues, they’re fixing it.

Sounds ok to me.

I wonder if other manufacturers would fix an equivalent bug so quickly?
Rating: 21 Votes
6 weeks ago

Is Apple becoming the new Microsoft of old? Bug ridden software, slowly being hacked away. Even the official statement contradicts itself. What is going on over there?


No. Things happen, billion dollar companies have imperfect humans.
Rating: 20 Votes
6 weeks ago

Is Apple becoming the new Microsoft of old? Bug ridden software, slowly being hacked away. Even the official statement contradicts itself. What is going on over there?

What the heck are you talking about? They found a vulnerability and instead of letting people be exposed, they shut it off. Thereby protecting users. This is a good thing and something we WANT them to do. How you could spin this as something bad is beyond me
Rating: 13 Votes
6 weeks ago

Toxic comments as usual. This is a standard process when a critical bug is found. No company is bug-free even if you have a robust QA process in place. Anybody who worked in a bit more complex software development can relate to this, often you find bugs that could have been in the code for years.


And disabling the feature until the fix is released is the right thing to do. Hopefully a new watchOS version will be released early next week and walkie talkie will be live again
Rating: 10 Votes
6 weeks ago
Wasn’t eavesdropping a feature of walkie talkies? That part was the most fun in the good ol days imho
Rating: 9 Votes
6 weeks ago
Is Apple becoming the new Microsoft of old? Bug ridden software, slowly being hacked away. Even the official statement contradicts itself. What is going on over there?
Rating: 7 Votes
6 weeks ago

I’ve honestly never used the feature. None of friends or peers use it either. Is anybody else not missing this?


Of course I’d miss it. I love walkie-talkie as it’s a quick and easy way to get in touch with someone super fast when you want immediate feedback without having to make a phone call. For example, my girlfriend and I use it all the time when we’re shopping at the mall or somewhere with a lot of square footage where we want to go to separate stores or departments of a much larger store. Really useful and powerful.
Rating: 6 Votes
6 weeks ago

I’ve honestly never used the feature. None of friends or peers use it either. Is anybody else not missing this?

I really want to use it and like it, but on my S2 (and my girlfriends S2) it just seems to not connect a lot, and generally is very hit or miss.
Rating: 5 Votes

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