A now-fixed bug would cause iPhones to crash if you mentioned 'Taiwan'

The political issues between the small country of Taiwan and its larger and more powerful neighbor China means that a lot of people have to take steps to keep the bigger nation happy.

  • Published: July 11, 2018 10:26 AM IST

The political tussles between the People’s Republic of China and the smaller nation of Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) are a well known matter globally, and to date there is a disagreement regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China claims that Taiwan is a part of its territory, while Taiwan claims that the mainland is a part of its territory. However, as simple as the de facto positions of the two countries are, the tussle creates various complications for everyone else, including Apple.

A report by security researcher Patrick Wardle suggests that Apple had written code into iOS 11.3 that was presumably meant to appease the government in PRC, where the phone would crash on the mention of Taiwan or the use of the Taiwanese flag emoji. This wasn’t a widespread issue, and only affected a limited number of users’ devices. Wardle has since found that certain language or region settings would cause the phone to return a ‘null’ code on those mentions, making the phone crash.

The bug has since been fixed in iOS 11.4.1, and it’s an admittedly minor bug for most people around the world. that wasn’t even likely to affect them. The bug likely has something to do with the region, and triggers when users in certain regions mention the word Taiwan or use the emoji. It’s not clear what regions or devices were affected by the bug, and indeed a lot of the code could still exist without crashing the device.

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China is a major market for Apple, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it turns out that Apple is taking steps to adhere to the Chinese government’s official policy of not recognizing the sovereignty of Taiwan. Various companies that do business in China likely have to adhere to similar policies, where their products will react in certain ways on the mention of Taiwan. While Apple’s code may have been buggy, it’s now been fixed, fortunately.

  • Published Date: July 11, 2018 10:26 AM IST