Apple has temporarily disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch. The company introduced this feature in watchOS 5 last year. The iPhone maker has disabled the feature due to a recently reported bug. This bug allowed other users to eavesdrop on other Apple Watch users. The Cupertino-based company confirmed the same in a statement. Apple claims that it was just got to know about the vulnerability. As soon as the company confirmed the flaw, it temporarily disabled the Walkie-Talkie functionality to preserve user privacy. The app will remain installed on Apple Watch wearable devices but it will not be functional.
Apple has also confirmed that it is working on developing a fix for the issue. The Walkie-Techie feature allows Apple Watch users to easily communicate with each other via voice. The app provided a modern push-to-talk function to Apple Watch users directly from their wrist. The report by TechCrunch further notes that the issue is reminiscent of the serious Group FaceTime bug discovered early this year. The bug allowed callers to hear the audio from another FaceTime user. The highlight of this bug was that it worked without any action from the victim. This means that it worked even without the user actually receiving the call.
As soon as the bug came to light, the company remotely disabled Group FaceTime feature. Now, the company has taken a similar step with the discovery of the bug in its Walkie-Talkie app. Apple issued an emergency bug fix for Group FaceTime a week and a half later in the form of iOS 12.1.4. We might see a similar fix arrive for the Walkie Talkie bug as well with the release of a new watchOS 5 update. The Tim Cook-led company has not shared any timeline for the release of the update just yet.
“We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience,” Apple said in a statement.