Apple fixes iPhone crash bug whenever Taiwan was mentioned

Doris Richards
July 11, 2018

China, as it often does, responded with censorship. With certain system configurations, apps that displayed the word "Taiwan" or the Taiwanese flag emoji would immediately crash the phone.

As the chief research officer at cyber-security company Digita Security, Wardle published details of his bug discovery in a personal blog post. He eventually found that the crashes were being caused by code that classified messages based on emojis they contained. Wardle notes that while digging into the code for possible problems, he found out that various code to the faulting instruction was checking the user's device's language/ locale settings for China.

As such, it would appear that Apple was forced to tweak its iOS 11 code to keep mentions of Taiwan out of its software and iPhone apps. The bug affected nearly every messaging app including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. That made it hard to track down the cause of the bug.


But iPhone users still can't put Taiwanese flags into their texts, so it looks like Apple has bowed down to China and is adhering to the nation's censorship and seeming dislike of freedom of speech, which we reckon iPhone users wouldn't want having shelled out for a high-end smartphone. The bug also kicked in when the Taiwanese flag emoji was used. In the case of Taiwan, China's relationship with the territory is fraught at best.

Dating back to the start of a year ago, iOS seemingly included a censorship feature which banished the Taiwanese flag emoji whenever the handset's location is set to China. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, leading to a great deal of tension that extends even to 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. As of the latest 11.4.1 update, users won't crash their phones simply by typing "Taiwan".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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