Dubbed ‘chaiOS’, a bug has been discovered by users in iOS and macOS that crashes the Messages app and can freeze or restart your phone when you’re sent a specially-engineered website link. Apple has now confirmed that the company will issue an update to address the bug next week.
Discovered by software developer Abraham Masri, the bug for which he gave a catchy yet slightly alarmist name of “chaiOS”, exploits the fact that Messages preloads any links to web pages, so it can show users a preview of the page.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Masri explained that he created a webpage hosted on GitHub and stuffed its metadata with hundreds of thousands of unnecessary characters. Masri suggests that messages crash when trying to load all of this unexpected information, sometimes taking the entire operating system down with it.
Masri noted that the cause of the bug was linked to Effective Power, which was first uncovered in 2015. It worked similarly, in that texting someone a link was enough to cause their iPhone to crash continuously. chaiOS won't cause any permanent damage to your phone, but it's certainly an annoying little bug that needs to be squashed, so it's good that Apple is working on a fix.
In another short statement to Buzzfeed, Apple didn’t say how the update would be pushed, however, it’s possible the fix could roll out with iOS 11.2.3, or potentially with iOS 11.2.5 which is the latest developer beta version being tested.
On a related note, this is not the first instance of such a bug on iOS. Back in January 2017, YouTuber EverythingApplePro brought a bug to light wherein sending a white flag emoji, a zero, and a rainbow emoji in one message crashed any iPhone variant running iOS 8 and above.