PSA: New Character Bug in Messages Causing iOS Devices to Crash [Updated]

There appears to be a new character-linked bug in Messages, Mail, and other apps that can cause the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch to crash when receiving a specific string of characters.

capturetheflagcrashbug

Image from Twitter

In this particular case, the character string involves the Italian flag emoji along with characters in the Sindhi language, and it appears the system crash happens when an incoming notification is received with the problem-causing characters.

Based on information shared on Reddit, the character string began circulating on Telegram, but has also been found on Twitter.

These kind of device-crashing character bugs surface every so often and sometimes become widespread, leading to a significant number of people ending up with a malfunctioning iPhone, iPad, or Mac. In 2018, for example, a character string in the Telugu language circulated around the internet, crashing thousands of devices before Apple addressed the problem in an iOS update.

There is often no way to prevent these characters from causing crashes and freezes when received from a malicious person, and crashes caused through notifications often cause operating system re-springs and in some cases, a need to restore a device in DFU mode.

MacRumors readers should be aware that such a bug is circulating, and for those who are particularly concerned, as this bug appears to impact notifications, turning off notifications may mitigate the effects. Apple typically fixes these character bugs within a few days to a week.

Update: According to MacRumors reader Adam, who tested the bug on a device running iOS 13.4.5, the issue is fixed in the second beta of that update.

Top Rated Comments

Joniz Avatar
21 months ago

It's amazing how anyone even finds these sort of things to begin with. Are there people literally typing all sorts of crap in messages to see what sticks?
What else you got to do these days?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
21 months ago
How hard can it possibly be to just have something like:

try {
renderText();
} catch (Exception e) {
renderUnprintable();
reportToApple(e);
}


I know, that's Java and Apple would actually use Swift, but still, how hard can it possibly be to just not let the exception through?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Timothy Leo Crowley Avatar
21 months ago

wow, lots of critical bugs coming out of Cupertino lately. Mail security bug and now this.
Bugs like this happen to all complex systems. Always have, always will. Apple finds and fixes them fast.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
globalist Avatar
21 months ago
It's amazing how anyone even finds these sort of things to begin with. Are there people literally typing all sorts of crap in messages to see what sticks?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
riverfreak Avatar
21 months ago
I really wish Apple would treat your contact list as a whitelist and treat everything else as spam, both calls and messages. Heck, I’d even extend that to email, too.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
btrach144 Avatar
21 months ago
wow, lots of critical bugs coming out of Cupertino lately. Mail security bug and now this.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Mac Notebook Upgrade Program

Apple Introduces New MacBook Upgrade Program for Business Partners

Monday November 29, 2021 7:38 am PST by
In association with CIT as the financing partner, Apple has launched a new Mac Upgrade Program for small businesses and Apple business partners that allow companies to easily distribute and upgrade their fleets of MacBooks at an affordable price to all of their workers. As outlined on CIT's website, shared by Max Weinbach, Apple Business Partners can distribute the 13-inch MacBook Pro,...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature

Best Cyber Monday Deals for AirPods, Apple Pencil, iMac, More

Monday November 29, 2021 4:19 am PST by
With Black Friday over, Cyber Monday 2021 is now in full swing and you can find many of the same sales as last week on Apple products like AirPods, Apple Pencil, and iPad Pro. In this article we're focusing on the best Cyber Monday discounts on Apple products like these and more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we...
2017 apple tv

Cyber Monday: Original Apple TV 4K Drops to $99.99 for Amazon Prime Members

Monday November 29, 2021 12:01 pm PST by
We've been tracking Apple product and accessory deals for Cyber Monday 2021 today, and now Woot is offering a solid discount on the previous generation 32GB Apple TV 4K. You can get this device in new condition for just $99.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member. Note that this sale will last for one day only. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
iphone holiday

Best Black Friday iPhone Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:58 am PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Black Friday 2021 sales have now carried over into Cyber Monday as well. Right now we're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like iPhone SE. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature 2

Best Cyber Monday Apple Accessory Deals Available Today

Monday November 29, 2021 6:41 am PST by
We started sharing deals on Apple products for Cyber Monday 2021 earlier today, and now we're tracking deals and bargains available from all of the best Apple accessory companies. Similar to Black Friday, you can expect Cyber Monday savings from Twelve South, Nomad, Belkin, Casetify, and many more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...