Apple has tackled a bug that causes its devices to freeze if they encounter a specific character from the Telugu alphabet – a language native to India.
Following the glitch’s discovery, pranksters had used the symbol on social media, private messages and even Uber’s app to cause problems.
Apple has now issued a software update for its iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, smartwatches and TV set-top boxes.
It is the latest in a series of “text bomb” flaws to affect Apple devices.
Earlier examples include:
- the Chaios bug, which caused the Messages app to freeze or restart if a special link was included in a text
- an exploit triggered by messages featuring a white flag symbol, a zero, a rainbow emoji and a hidden character
- the inclusion of a nonsense word in Arabic
The US firm’s security update refers to the latest flaw as a “memory corruption issue” triggered by “processing a maliciously crafted string”.
The issue was first reported by the developers of the Aloha mobile web browser on 12 February.
It affects Apple’s Messages app as well as third-party services including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Outlook and Gmail, but not Telegram or Skype, according to the Verge news site.
The Telugu letter involved is not very common in Telugu words, but because the sound it makes is unusual it cannot be easily substituted with another character when required.
Telugu itself is mostly spoken in south-eastern India, where it is the official language of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.