There's a text message doing the rounds that can crash iPhones or disable the touchscreen, though Apple already seems to be working on a fix – the beta version of iOS 13.4.5 appears to add extra protection against the rogue message.
The damaging string of text is made up of various characters from the Sindhi language, and – somewhat randomly – the Italian flag. It can appear over SMS as well as any other source, like instant messages or social media.
It's not clear where this particular combination of characters first appeared, though it's been doing the rounds on Telegram and Discord this week. You can see a demonstration of the effect that the bug can have on Twitter.
While there's no protection for the bug at the moment, you can get everything back to normal by resetting the affected device. On newer iPhones, this means pressing and quickly releasing the volume up button, pressing and quickly releasing the volume down button, and then pressing the side key until you see the Apple logo.
(You can see the full list of how to reset any iPhone over at the Apple support page).
It's a bug's life
The bug wreaks havoc as soon as you receive the message, even before you've opened it. Turning off notifications does seem to offer some protection, so you might want to try that for the time being.
Apple usually pushes out fixes for these kinds of bugs fairly rapidly, though it hasn't said anything specifically about this one. We'd expect iOS to get patched with an update within the next few days.
This is by no means the first time that iOS has been hit by a bug like this – you might remember the 'black dot' bug from 2018 that crashed iPhones running iOS 11, before Apple issued a patch.
Go back even further to 2015, and there was another strange string of characters that could crash the messaging app on iPhones. Thankfully, these bugs don't typically cause any real damage.
Via The Verge