'Black dot of death' is crashing iMessage, and there's only one way to fix it

'Black dot of death' is crashing iMessage, and there's only one way to fix it
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Apparently we live in a universe where crashing your friend’s phone is considered a fun prank.

There’s a new bug going around that can paralyze the iPhone’s Messages app if it receives a message with a particular character, and not even a reboot will fix it. As reported by Cult of Mac, the bug is called the “black dot of death,” but it’s not actually the black dot emoji (⚫) that does the damage. 

Instead, a thousands-character-long string of invisible Unicode text, which accompanies the dot, does the damage. The text is too much for the Messages app to handle, rendering it unusable, crashing every time the user tries to launch it. The bug affects iOS 11.3 and the iOS 11.4 betas.

A YouTuber with the handle EverythingApplePro appears to have created the bug. With it, “pranksters” can send a message to their (soon to be former) friends that can contains the black dot emoji — as well as that string of invisible text. As soon as the recipient opens the message, Messages freezes. And just like the bug that made the rounds in February that involved a character in the Indian language Telugu, restarting the app or rebooting your phone won’t fix it.

The only fix, according the the YouTuber, is to use 3D Touch on the Messages icon on the iPhone’s home screen. Push hard and you’ll see the Quick Actions menu, tap “New Message,” and that should do the trick. If you have an iPhone without 3D Touch, however, you’ll be out of luck (sorry, iPhone SE owners).

The black dot of death bug is said to be the iPhone remix of a similar exploit that made the rounds on WhatsApp for Android. At least it’s an equal-opportunity bug now.

Mashable has contacted Apple to learn if and when it will release a fix for the bug; we’ll update this story with any new information.

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