Apple promises fix for ‘Unicode of Death’ iMessage bug

“A bug in Apple’s iOS Messages app can cause an iPhone to reboot after receiving a specific string of text in a message,” Nathan Olivarez-Giles reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Apple acknowledged the bug in an email to the Journal, saying: ‘We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of Unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update,'” Olivarez-Giles reports. “While the bug is real and Apple has said as much, it’s not easy to pull off, even if you know the offending text.”

“It took The Guardian 50 tries before they were able to make it work, and it took us 24,” Olivarez-Giles reports. “In our experience, once the iPhone crashes, it restarts and works as normal.”

Read more in the full article here.

“This isn’t devastating, but it is annoying and Apple will make a fix available. But some users have already started complaining that it permanently disables iMessage — until you delete the conversation,” Jose Pagliery reports for CNN Money. “(One tip to get around this freeze is to use the Photos app to send a text message, then once you’re in iMessage, erase the conversation.)”

MacDailyNews Take: Good to hear, but it seems rather specific and difficult to trigger, like 2013’s “Unicode of Death.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Random string of Arabic characters can crash nearly any Mac, iPhone or iPad – September 3, 2013


    1. Not sure why all the down votes. My family struggles with it, too. We have occasions where one person hoses the family on our shared data, so we turn it off for some things. That really messes with iMessage. The app/system isn’t smart enough to try one, and when it doesn’t work, then go to standard SMS messages. Instead, messages will be stuck in limbo for days until you turn data back on. You would think that connecting to a wifi signal would work, but it doesn’t. iMessage isn’t perfect, folks. Not even close.

      1. Good for you.. or rather bad for you that iMessage behaves in a way which is inconsistent with the rest of the world.

        Not once have I, my friends, family, or colleagues, experienced so much as a single issue with iMessage..(a sample pool of a few dozen) at times an iMessage won’t go through, but then does push through as an SMS.

        The down votes would seem to corroborate that, making you and Kent outliers.

  1. Pardon my French, but what kind of programming language and / or OS allows an app to freeze the whole computer.

    What happened to “sandboxing.”

    If there are OS programmers in the house, speak up.

  2. Actually it’s the way banner notifications are handled. Any app that generates a banner containing this string لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ 冗 will cause a reboot. If you don’t use banners I think you’re safe, but I haven’t tried it myself.

      1. Usually the fish rots from the head. If Apple is losing its quality because it puts fashion before performance, then the best path back to former glory is to replacie ineffective leaders long before their stupid mistakes show up on the balance sheet. Jobs gave Apple a decade or more of cash flow to do anything, and ever since Apple has released shoddy software and turned its back on Mac users. iOS will keep Apple relevant just as Office keeps MS relevant. But user experience on the Apple platforms is not improving at all, and that has to be fixed pronto.

  3. Déjà vu of this happening several times in the past amidst a variety of software. I’d enjoy knowing exactly what this triggers to cause a crash. But I was saying to some security techies a couple days ago that I BET the problem is yet another buffer overflow memory management problem. But we’ll see.

    BTW: What triggers the crash specifically is NOTIFICATIONS on the iPhone. You have to have Notifications turned ON and be off doing something else on your device in order for the offending text to trigger the crash and reboot. Therefore, Apple is busy figuring out what’s going on in Notifications that it can’t handle passing along this particular message. Turn Notifications OFF and you’re safe. It’s not Messages that’s the problem.

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