A bug that means a specific string of text can completely crash iPhones has led people to take extreme measures to keep their phones safe.
A problem with the way that iOS handles notifications means that if people are sent the code — which includes strange words and unusual symbols and Arabic characters — their phone grinds to a halt and restarts itself, before becoming unuseable. Apple has said that it is aware of the problem and is working on a fix, but until then users have been forced to take the problem into their own hands.
The most dramatic way of avoiding the problem is to turn off notifications entirely for the Messages app.
That is done by heading to Settings and choosing Notifications and then Messages, and swiping the toggle button so that “Show on Lock Screen” is off and the alert style when unlocked is set to “none”. Messages will still show up in the notification centre and as a small badge on the app on the home screen, but won’t be able to load up as banners and shut down the phone.
The problem also seems to hit the Apple Watch. Turning off notifications in the same way seems to remedy that.
An easier and less dramatic way of avoiding some of the chance of it happening is to filter out unknown senders. That can be done from the Messages options in the Settings app.
Turning that setting on means that if a stranger sends a text, it is sent into its own conversation and doesn’t bring up an alert. That means that people who aren't in your contact book won’t be able to make the bug happen — you’ll still get alerts from your friends, for better or for worse.
If the problem has already happened, it can be got around by either sending a message to the person who you received the problem one from, or sending yourself a text. But since the Messages app is broken by the bug, users have to take a roundabout route to do either.
You can either ask Siri to send a text, or do so from the share sheets that can be found in most apps, such as Photos. It doesn’t matter what’s said in the text, as long as it’s sent to yourself or the offending “effective power” message sender.
Once that’s done, the Messages app should come back to life and you can head in and delete the conversation.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies