The year of 2017 ended with a streak of software problems for Apple, with a number of bugs reported towards the end of November and early December. Now it seems like 2018 isn’t starting any better for the company. Last month, a bug was reported in iOS that could crash the Messages app and freeze or restart the phone, when a specially-engineered website link is sent to the phone. Now a new bug has been discovered in iOS 11 that lets people crash an iPhone and block access to the Messages app in iOS, just by sending a specific character. The bug is very much reproducible in any iPhone running iOS 11 (successfully tested in multiple iPhones running iOS 11.2.5).
The latest bug involves an Indian language (Telugu) character that iOS is unable to load, leading to the crash. As soon as an iOS 11 device receives a message containing the character, Apple’s iOS Springboard crashes. Furthermore, you'll no longer have access to the Messages app as the app fails to load the character. A temporary fix to the bug is to have another friend send you a message, obviously not containing that 'bugging-character.' Once you receive the message, try opening it directly from the notification pop-up and then try to delete the thread that contained the bad character. If successfully deleted, you should regain access to your iMessages.
The bug has only affected the iOS 11.2.5 phones, which means the public beta versions of iOS 11.3 are safe. The final public release of iOS 11.3, containing a permanent fix for the bug, is expected sometime this spring.
As we said earlier, this is not the the first time that iOS has crashed due to weird characters, URLs, or even videos. Apple has reportedly allowed its engineers to push-back some major feature updates to later releases amid all these security and reliability issues discovered in both iOS and macOS recently. As the company is being constantly hit by security issues and software bugs of late, it is only justifying that the company is focusing on reliability and performance in iOS 12 over new features.