Here’s the text message that will crash your iPhone

May 27, 2015, 5:46 PM UTC

It is perhaps a measure of how deftly Apple PR handled the Jony Ive foot-out-the-door story that by Wednesday Apple’s share price had largely recovered and the tech press had moved on.

The top Apple story of the morning — picked up by at least three dozen news sites — was that some guys at Reddit were crashing iPhones and Apple Watches simply by sending them a text message.

The new “bug” — if that’s what you want to call it — turned out to be a glitch in the process by which iOS banner notifications handles a particular string of Chinese, Marathi* and Arabic characters. By trying to insert ellipses in this odd bit of text, the banner creates a character that can’t be displayed and forces a restart.

I have three things to say:

  • There’s a workaround. (Disable Notification banners for Messages.)
  • Apple says it’s working on a permanent fix.
  • Tomorrow there’ll be another story.


*Marathi is one of India’s 23 official languages and the world’s 20th most-spoken, according to Nationalencyklopedin, the Swedish language encyclopedia. I had to look it up.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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