A single character can crash apps on an iPhone pretty much without any user interaction, and in some cases, even worse things can happen, like devices no longer booting and requiring a complete reinstall of iOS.
By this point, I think everyone heard about this bug, especially following the press exposure it received in the last couple of days. And this leads us straight to my problem: everyone heard about it.
But let’s take everything one a time and see what happened. The first reports on this made the rounds on Thursday morning, with videos posted on YouTube and on Twitter showing how a single character in Telugu can crash an app on iPhone. I was one of the first to try to reproduce the bug, and unfortunately for me, it worked.
Technically, the only thing you had to do was send someone with an iPhone, Mac, or Apple Watch a message containing a bad character in Telugu that Apple’s devices couldn’t read. This triggered an app crash, regardless of the app we’re talking about. From my testing, I discovered the bug existed in both first-party apps like iMessage and Mail, and also in third-party ones like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Gmail.
In addition to crashing the app and blocking it from relaunching, there were cases when iPhones tried to respring, only to then reboot and get stuck with an Apple logo. Connecting the device to iTunes asked for the passcode, so the only way to fix the iPhone was to enter recovery mode, connect to iTunes and then restore a backup, if available. Otherwise, a complete reset was required.
A few hours later, especially as more Americans woke up, the Indian character bug was on all websites. Everyone was talking about it, YouTubers were demoing how the whole thing worked, and the worst of all, pranksters were already sending it to random people across the web.
As with everything Apple, the Cupertino-based company remained completely tight-lipped during this whole time, only to provide a statement late on Thursday to say that it was working on a fix.
As an iPhone user, I hoped the patch would land on Friday evening, but boy, I was wrong. Apple didn’t see any reason to hurry up and ship it faster, deciding instead to leave each and every one of us exposed for at least one more weekend.
Needless to say, I was disappointed. And I was even more disappointed to hear that the bug was already fixed in iOS 11.3 beta, and this could mean two different things. First, Apple knew about the bug, but decided to stay quiet and hope it won’t go public. But it did. And second of all, the company was too lazy to extract the fix from the beta and make it available for stable users as soon as possible, though I’d say this is just speculation on my side because I can’t tell how much work such a process would involve.
In the end, here we are still vulnerable to this terrible bug four days after it was discovered with Apple seeing no reason to hurry up with a fix.
“Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile always feels like home.”
As a heavy user, I rely on my smartphone for doing pretty much everything when I’m not at the office. If someone decides to send my that Indian character and trigger this insane bug on my iPhone, there’s not much I can do. But there’s one thing I can actually do to avoid this: switch to another phone.
Since I really can’t risk getting my phone bricked by someone who thinks this would be funny, I started considering my backup phones once again. Needless to say, the first option was Android.
But here’s another problem. As a Samsung Galaxy S8 user, Samsung has already let me down two many times in the last few months. My phone is stuck with the November 2017 security update, and judging from the posts in the Samsung community, I’m not the only one. Ironically, these were supposed to be monthly security updates.
Then, Samsung promised to ship Android Oreo in February, more than six months after Google pushed it to its own devices. Other companies have also released Android for their own phones, but the world’s number one phone maker decided not to rush things by any means. So they started the rollout in early February, and as with everything Samsung, not everyone got it on day 1. Instead, the release happened gradually, which totally makes sense and I agree with, only that for many people, after waiting so many months, waiting a few more days is extremely frustrating. And in Samsung’s world, you never know how much you might have to wait for updates.
Eventually, Samsung decided to pull the plug on the Oreo update entirely because of what it describes as unexpected reboots. So no Oreo for me anytime soon.
And while I can live with my Galaxy S8 on Nougat, my experience with a phone goes well beyond what a device can offer. It also involves the way the parent company treats customers, and in this case, Samsung has sooo many things to improve.
So here I am thinking about switching to Windows 10 Mobile again. I know, I know, this platform has no future, there are no apps, the OS is full of bugs. But what I can’t understand is why Windows 10 Mobile still feels like home for so many people. Including me, that is.
My only problem is that, as with Apple and Samsung, Microsoft itself has also let users down in the mobile world. So right now, at least for me, choosing the right phone is something that’s definitely not as easy as it sounds.