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

The bug enabled anyone to crash an Apple device by sending a text message with the Taiwanese flag

He said his fix addressed code Apple added likely to appease the Chinese government; this is the code that caused crashes on certain iDevices when users typed the word Taiwan or received messages containing a Taiwanese flag emoji. China, as it often does, responded with censorship.

A censorship feature used in Apple software reportedly had a bug that crashed iPhones when an emoji of the Taiwanese flag was displayed. English can still be set as the primary language, though. Unfortunately, because of some sloppy coding, it managed to cause crashes on some devices in the US (Wardle notes the bug relies on a region-specific setup that includes a Chinese language setting).

Having just released iOS 11.4.1 to the masses, Apple's focus was very much focused on squashing bugs rather than rolling out new features. That made it hard to track down the cause of the bug. "Chinese iPhones won't display this flag and will instead show a missing character tofu". Apple had configured iOS to flag messages, both types and received, that included the Taiwan flag emoji.

Apple, who did not return a request for comment on Wardle's comments, has in the past defended its concessions to the Chinese government as part of a back-and-forth that will allow it to bring art and culture to the mainland. Even receiving the Taiwanese flag emoji on a chat conversation caused messaging apps to crash. China claims the country as its territory, but Taiwan claims it has the right to self-govern.

After two+ years of being unable to type "Taiwan" or being remotely DOS'd anytime her phone received an Taiwanese flag emoji, the fix (kudos to my friend Josh S. for the idea!), was simply to toggle the region from United States to China, then back to US. Wardle reported the bug to Apple, which has finally issued a patch. As of the latest 11.4.1 update, users won't crash their phones simply by typing "Taiwan".

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