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 6, watchOS 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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13 months 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.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago
I’ve honestly never used the feature. None of friends or peers use it either. Is anybody else not missing this?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months 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?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months 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.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months 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
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months 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
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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