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Apple on Thursday posted a support document detailing workarounds for a recently discovered bug that crashes the iOS Messages app when a specific text string is received.
In the Support Pages entry, Apple said it was aware of an iMessage issue that causes the app to crash when a specific string of unicode text is received, specifically the Arabic characters seen in the screenshot above.
- Ask Siri to "read unread messages."
- Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open Messages again.
- In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.
Apple says a more permanent fix is in the works for a future software update, though an exact release timeline was not offered.
The bug discovered on Wednesday is thought to be a code handling problem; iOS cannot correctly render the block of unicode characters in question. When the text string is sent from one iPhone to another, it sets off a cascade of processing errors that eat up memory and ultimately crashes Messages. In some cases Springboard also crashes, triggering an iPhone reboot sequence.
Aside from Apple's workaround, users have found that receiving a new message from the same sender halts the text rendering process for that conversation, returning Messages to full functionality. Alternatively, users can send themselves a picture or message using an app supporting Share Sheets.