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New ‘Black Dot’ Unicode Bug Crashes iMessage, Here’s How to Fix it

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Highlighted first in a video by the folks over at EverythingApplePro, a newly discovered Unicode text bug called ‘Black Dot’ being spread around with the following emoji: <?> ??,  is crashing all sorts of mobile operating systems and apps, including WhatsApp on Android and iMessage on iOS. 

Imessage unicode bug

Apparently, the Unicode string contains thousands of hidden invisible characters, which churns through CPU cycles as the system attempts to process them. When this specially crafted text is sent through Messages, it results in repeated crashes when the recipient tries to read it.

Fortunately, the issue can be resolved on iPhones (6s and newer excluding iPhone SE) by following these steps to delete the conversation containing the message (via MacRumors):

  • Force close the iMessage app.
  • Ask Siri to send a reply to the sender of the message so that the Unicode string is no longer the most recent bubble in the conversation.
  • 3D Touch on the Messages app icon from the home screen and tap New Message in the menu that pops open.
  • Tap on Cancel in the top-right corner of the New Message screen.
  • Tap on Edit in the top-left corner of the conversation list.
  • Tap the circle to the left of the conversation containing the problematic message. A blue checkmark will appear.
  • Tap on Delete in the bottom-right corner.

For iOS devices which do not have 3D Touch, carry out these steps when you open iMessages:

  • Tap on the back arrow in the top-left corner to return to the conversation list.
  • Tap on Edit in the top-left corner of the conversation list.
  • Tap the circle to the left of the conversation containing the problematic message. A blue checkmark will appear.
  • Tap on Delete in the bottom-right corner.

The bug affects both iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.4 beta, with no official word on a permanent fix yet from Apple.

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