Apple releases an iOS update to fix infamous Telegu text bug

Little more than a week after the infamous Telegu text bug was discovered on Apple devices, the company has released updates for all of its operating systems. Now, iPhone and iPad users can download the latest iOS update, version 11.2.6, to fix the issue.

The bug, first discovered by the Italian blog Mobile World, caused a continuous reboot loop on Apple devices running iOS 11.2.5 if a certain Indian Telegu character was sent via Messages or other third-party messaging apps. The bug, however, did not just affect iPhones and iPads; it affected nearly every Apple consumer device running the latest iOS, MacOS, or WatchOS update. 

According to the report, the iOS Springboard crashes when it receives a message containing a Telegu character. Once it’s received, Messages fails to load because it’s trying to load a character iOS simply can’t render. Until Apple issued the update, the only way to fix the issue was to have someone join the instant message thread and delete the offensive character entry.

The same Telegu character was also responsible for crashing third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Gmail. Until the update, any users who received the character would have to go online and delete the offending message from the web-based version of the app.

Apple was first made aware of the issue on or around February 12, according to a community bug report found by OpenRadar.  When notified of the issue via the community bug report, Apple replied that “this [report] is a duplicate and the original bug was closed.”

Although Apple generates solid, dependable hardware, the company’s devices aren’t entirely immune from software glitches. Just last month, Apple patched a problem with the Messages app that froze or restarted the device after receiving a specific website link. Discovered by software developer Abraham Masri, iPhone owners didn’t even need to click the link to see their device crash: Messages automatically generates a preview of linked websites. 

In his proof-of-concept bug report, Masri took advantage of Apple’s software guidelines, which allow website developers to inject characters into the webpage code, specifically the metadata section, to tailor the site for previewing within Messages. But Masri injected the metadata with more text characters than iOS could handle, causing Messages to crash. 

The problem with the Telugu character stemmed from the iOS system text renderer, which is why third-party apps also suffered the same Messages fate. But as previously stated, the issue didn’t just affect iOS: it affected all of Apple’s consumer operating systems,  indictating all three system text renderers were incompatible with the Telugu character. 

Updated February 20: Added iOS 11.2.6 update information.