Sunday, 22 July, 2018

IOS bug crashes messaging apps on iPhones after typing ‘Taiwan’

iPhone crash? Might have been China's dislike for Taiwan's flag Apple fixes iPhone crash bug whenever Taiwan was mentioned
Katie Ramirez | 11 July, 2018, 19:57

Wardle explained how, due to a NULL pointer cockup, some iPhones that had set the United States as their default country would crash when receiving the flag or word as part of a text message, or when typing it. According to security researcher Patrick Wardle, Apple's efforts to appease the Chinese government led to an annoying iPhone bug that it only just fixed in the most recent software update, after the bug plagued users for two years.

Anyone with that language setting wouldn't see the emoji but would instead see a square with a cross through it. It helped to isolating the memory locations that stored a dereferenced null pointer and a faulty instruction that caused it. Wardle also relied on the iPhone's restore image to pull some of the code libraries. Messages which were sent featuring the emoji included only a blank space. The bug also kicked in when the Taiwanese flag emoji was used.

The intended behavior of this code is not to crash your phone, obviously. The bug affected nearly every messaging app including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On the side of the recipient, whenever an app would show the flag emoji, it would end up crashing.

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After losing mainland China to communist forces in 1949, the Republic of China relocated to Taiwan.

But iPhone users still can't put Taiwanese flags into their texts, so it looks like Apple has bowed down to China and is adhering to the nation's censorship and seeming dislike of freedom of speech, which we reckon iPhone users wouldn't want having shelled out for a high-end smartphone. China claimed Taiwan as its territory, but Taiwan insisted on its right to self-govern.

Wardle notes that Apple probably created code in iOS to remove Taiwan's flag emoji at the behest of the Chinese government, and that code is the cause of the suspicious crashes.

Luckily, that code won't cause a problem for non-Chinese iPhones anymore. Before Apple's fix, changing the iPhone's region could have worked around the bug.

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