FaceTime bug: A teen and his mom spent a week trying to warn Apple

A serious FaceTime bug that let iPhone users eavesdrop on the person they were calling was all over the news on Tuesday, January 29. It now appears that a teen and his mom tried to warn Apple about the flaw multiple times in the past week, but without success.

Only when the issue went viral on Tuesday did Apple acknowledge the bug’s existence. Its initial response was to disable FaceTime’s recently launched group call feature, a move that prevented people from exploiting the flaw. It then said it’s aiming to fix the problem by the end of this week.

Arizona resident Michele Thompson claims her son, Grant, stumbled upon the issue by chance nine days ago when he was trying to contact friends on Apple’s video chat app, CNN reported.

Ms. Thompson said she had tried to alert the company to the issue a number of times — including emailing and tweeting Apple CEO Tim Cook — but to no avail.

Then, on January 21, a full eight days before Apple tackled the security issue, she took to Facebook and Twitter to voice her concerns, writing: “My teen found a major security flaw in Apple’s new iOS. He can listen in to your iPhone/iPad without your approval. I have video. Submitted bug report to @AppleSupport…waiting to hear back to provide details. Scary stuff!”

She eventually learned that a developer account was required to report the flaw, and so, still keen to make sure Apple got to hear about the problem, Thompson emailed a bug report and a video showing how to replicate it to the iPhone maker’s Product Security department.

She said later that Apple’s reporting process was “poorly set up, especially for the average citizen,” telling CNN that the experience had been “exhausting and exasperating.”

On Tuesday, once news outlets got hold of the story, Apple finally disabled the group call feature to prevent the bug from being exploited. The feature only launched last year, with the flaw reportedly affecting iDevices running iOS 12.1 or later, and also Mac computers.

Users could exploit the bug by starting a FaceTime call on their Apple handset, then swiping up and tapping Add Person. Inputting your own phone number and adding it would connect the call without the recipient realizing.

In a Facebook message posted before the issue went viral, Grant’s mother requested “an iPhone X, a MacBook and a new pair of AirPods for his trouble.” Apple doesn’t hand out goodies for bug reports, though it does offer cash rewards for important discoveries as part of its bug bounty program.

The tech colossus is now working to squash the bug and has disabled group calls, but if you’d prefer to log out of FaceTime altogether until the fix arrives, then Digital Trends has a handy guide detailing the steps you need to take.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Verizon wants you to lobby the government for 5G deployment

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Mobile

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Mobile

5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.
Deals

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…
Mobile

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Mobile

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Social Media

Instagram to make giving easier with a Stories donation sticker for fundraisers

Instagram is preparing to launch a donation feature within Stories that would allow users to raise cash for a range of nonprofit charities. The company confirmed it's aiming to launch the donation sticker later this year.