Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rainbow flag emoji message crashes iPhones and iPads

Everyone having an iPhone or iPad with the latest iOS 10 is at risk of seeing it crash just because someone sent them a message - one having a very particular set of emoji and characters.

iPhone owners will once again have the opportunity to find out which friends may have a dubious sense of humor, as they may crash their smartphones with a simple message. The message itself seems quite innocent, consisting of a white flag emoji, followed by a zero, followed by a rainbow emoji; the problem is precisely what you can not see: a special character that asks the system to combine the emoji, and that should result in a rainbow-colored flag. But in iOS 10, a bug causes the system to try and combine the flag with the zero character, and crashing/freezing the system.

The attack can be done either via a direct iMessage message, or by sharing a contact via iMessage, with the contact card having the emoji sequence in one of its fields.

Until Apple fixes the issue, you can ask Siri to send a message to whoever sent the message, and then click on the message while it is in Siri's preview (with the options to send or cancel) to try and get to the offending message and delete it before it crashes the system; or select the option to delete all the messages with more than 30 days in the settings, and then manually change the date to 40 days in the future, followed by a restart. This will erase the problematic message ... but also all the others.

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