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Fix for FaceTime bug now rolling out

Apple has just released iOS update 12.1.4, but before you get too excited, this is one of those updates that fixes things rather than adds in new features.

The update addresses the Group FaceTime bug which allowed people to listen in on participants before the call was answered. Apple is in hot water over the bug, as it has been revealed that the company knew about the issue a week before it was made public; a 14-year-old and his mother contacted Apple about the problem before news of it had hit the internet and caused a kerfuffle.

All you had to do was begin a FaceTime call, add a person, and then select your own phone number – this process would allow you to start the call while the other person’s phone was still ringing, allowing you to hear everything they said before the call began. Given that many of us are off-guard the moment before we answer an incoming call, the potential for mischief was immense, so it’s understandable that the bug caused such a massive fuss.

Apple turned off the Group FaceTime feature the moment it discovered the problem, but it is being quizzed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on what it intends to do for those users who have been impacted by the problem. Apple is expected to clarify this by February 19th.

This isn’t the only problem Apple has fixed with 12.1.4 – it said that in the process of carrying out an audit on its FaceTime server, it also discovered a problem with Live Photos, which is now fixed. However, Apple hasn’t explained what that particular problem was. Apple plans to reward Grant Thompson – the boy who discovered the bug – with undisclosed compensation as well as an investment in his education.

Given how seriously people take their privacy these days, this stands as quite an embarrassing mistake for Apple, a company that has always stressed how secure it is when compared to its rivals. If you were impacted by this bug then you may well be entitled to some kind of compensation, depending on Apple’s statement on the matter. Whatever happens, this is the kind of mess-up that harms our trust in smart devices and the companies that sell them, so Apple will be hoping that it doesn’t drop the ball again in the near future.

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