There’s a new iPhone bug crashing people’s messaging apps, and all it takes is two texts.
People are referring to it as “The Black Dot Bug” because of the black circle emoji that you see in the text before your messaging app shuts down. The app goes white, and it can’t be fixed by force closing the app or by restarting your phone. The rest of your phone will be seemingly unaffected, although it might be a little slower to work until you fix the bug.
The namesake black dot emoji isn’t what actually causes the messaging app to crash – it’s the hundreds, potentially thousands of lines of Unicode text that come after the emoji that overwhelms the phone’s processor. It’s all stored and accessed from this website, as YouTuber Filip Koroy, popularly known as EverythingApplePro, explains, so it’s not something that can be sent accidentally.
Luckily there’s a fix, and it only takes a few seconds: Force close the Message app, 3D Touch the Message icon, and select “New Message.” Everything should be in working order again, so go back to your inbox and delete the message.
Apple doesn’t have an official fix yet, but it’s expected to have one soon, according to EverythingApplePro. In the meantime, here’s a step-by-step explainer of how and why the Black Dot Bug works:
The good news is that it’s impossible to send a black dot of death text by accident — it requires intent (pro tip: Don’t do this, your friends and family probably won’t find it funny, and if they don’t know the fix it could prevent them from being able to text). This is the site where people go to send the texts that cause the crash. As you can see, there are two messages the person has to send for this to work.
Clicking on the option to send the first message pulls up this text. It doesn’t do anything itself, but it’s a necessary first step, so use it as a warning that something worse is coming.
And this is the second text. It looks like it has hundreds of lines of Unicode text, but my phone was too slow to scroll so I couldn’t count to be sure. All of this text overwhelms the recipient’s phone’s CPU and causes the Message app to crash.
My phone was heating up just trying to load and send this, and my battery had a tough time keeping up.
As you can tell from the timestamps, it took about 20 minutes to load after I hit “Send the second message, (long to load),” and it had to do it in multiple steps; once the message pulled up, it was about ten minutes before I could even access the keyboard to type in the recipient’s name.
Here’s what the app looks like on the other end after the second message goes through. You can navigate out of it and use anything else on your iPhone, but nothing works within Message.
Koroy tested the bug on the iPhone X, 8, and 7 series, and the bug infected all of them – the older the phone the worse off it was.
I tried restarting the phone and force closing — the only thing that worked was creating a new message using 3D Touch on the icon. Make sure you delete the message once you get to your inbox.
Having gone through the whole process myself, sending the bug does require a serious time commitment that debilitates your phone and renders it useless until the messages are sent. Hopefully that’s discouragement enough.
According to Koroy, the bug originally went viral in India, when people started sending this message through WhatsApp.
When people get the black dot on WhatsApp, the recipient actually has to tap the circle for the screen to freeze. For WhatsApp, the fix is as simple as force closing and re-opening the app.
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