Watch out for this FaceTime glitch
Callers can listen – even if you don’t answer.
If you have an iPhone or a Mac, you may want to turn off FaceTime: A new bug can let the people who call you listen to your conversations even if you don’t answer the call.
The bug, which was widely circulated on the internet Monday night after being spotted by 9to5Mac, is easily accessible. Those looking to exploit the bug simply need to start a FaceTime call, swipe up to add a person and enter your own phone number. This will create a group FaceTime call and automatically answer the call for the first person. Both the caller and original recipient will be able to hear one another, or if the caller is quiet, allow them to eavesdrop if the recipient did not hear the original call.
Pressing the volume or power button on the recipient’s iPhone, which is usually used to silence or dismiss an incoming call, will also turn on the camera with this glitch, allowing the caller to activate your camera – though doing this will disable the audio.
USA TODAY was able to recreate the bug on multiple iPhones running versions of iOS 12.1 on devices ranging from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone XR. We were also able to recreate it on a MacBook Pro, allowing the iPhone to listen in to the Mac running the latest version of Mac OS Mojave.
We were not able to test the bug on an iPad running iOS 12.1, but those who have Apple’s tablets may want to exercise caution until a fix arrives.
In a statement provided to USA TODAY and other media outlets, Apple says it is “aware of this issue, and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”
Twitter quickly filled with users sharing their concerns and with videos replicating the bug.
The bug seems to exploit Group FaceTime, a feature Apple added in iOS 12 last year to allow for multiple people to FaceTime together. When tried on an iPhone running iOS 11.3, which doesn’t have Group FaceTime support, the bug did not work.
Late Monday night, the Apple System Status page showed that Group FaceTime was unavailable, with the feature remaining unavailable Tuesday. In our own test, USA TODAY confirmed that the company has appeared to have turned off the Group FaceTime feature. Now when someone attempts to turn a regular FaceTime call into a group call, the original FaceTime call disconnects entirely.
Regular one-on-one FaceTime calls are still working, though they did not appear to be exploitable by this bug.
Users can turn off FaceTime on their iOS 12 iPhones and iPads in the interim by going to Settings, scrolling to FaceTime and clicking it to the “off ” position. Those on a Mac running Mojave can disable FaceTime by opening the FaceTime app, clicking “FaceTime” in the upper left corner and then clicking “Turn FaceTime off ” from that drop down window.
Apple CEO Tim Cook appears through his Memoji during a group FaceTime call at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June.