Not to completely alarm anyone, but if you receive a text message with this symbol, it might be cause for concern. It’s a simple enough black dot, but it can really wreak havoc on your iPhone or iPad, as the bug that was discovered in Apple’s Messages app can freeze your device instantly. It’s not the black dot emoji itself that will paralyze your iPhone or iPad, but rather a string of thousands of invisible Unicode characters that flood your phone’s CPU when you attempt to open the message.
The iMessage app will crash repeatedly and any attempts to force quit the app or restart your phone won’t provide a fix, but rather will continue to load the text.
YouTube user EverythingApplePro demonstrated how the bug works, which works in iOS 10, 11.2, 11.3 and beta versions of 11.4. Following a series of instructions, two pre-loaded messages, are sent to another user, with one message containing the unicode characters.
According to EverythingApplePro, the older the recipient’s phone, the worse the bug will be. When the text is received and read, the recipient’s phone will freeze and display a white screen as it attempts to load hundreds of thousands of characters that can’t be seen. The CPU can’t handle it, as EverythingApplePro explains: “The CPU actually goes to 100%, so your phone gets really hot… If you didn’t know what was going on, you’d definitely think the Messages app was broken permanently.”
It’s expected that Apple will be issuing a fix for the bug “very shortly” in iOS 11.4, but thankfully this YouTube user has an easy enough way to fix things manually.
If you are unlucky enough to get this text bug, be aware and force close the iMessage app, then navigate to the home screen and 3D Touch the iMessage app, selecting “New Message.” This will take you to the list of iMessage conversations and allow you to cancel the message by hiting the edit button to delete it.
If you don’t have 3D Touch, force quit iMessage, then open Siri and ask it to send a reply to whoever sent the message with the bug. You must then continue to send replies via Siri until your iMessage conversation screen no longer displays the bug. Once that happens, you can open the iMessage app and go to the conversation list and remove it.
A “text bomb” is a similar bug that is freezing devices via WhatsApp, with a message that reads: “This is very interesting” with a cry laughing emoji, and “Read more.” If you click that “read more” your device will freeze.
An alternate message is a black dot with the instructions “if you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang.” Don’t click on it.
Among the comments on the YouTube video was one person who believed this type of information might give his pranking friends ideas, noting: “Dude I love your channel but can you please stop making these crash bug videos? My friends watch your vids and they are jerks and keep sending these to me and my phone does not have 3D Touch.”