Apple Scrambles to Fix a FaceTime Bug which Allowed Users to Eavesdrop on Others amidst Release of Quarterly Results which Show a Decline in Revenue

Apple has disabled group functionality on its FaceTime application over a new bug reported recently by 9to5Mac which allowed users to eavesdrop on other users before they accepted a call. The bug in certain cases also enabled callers to access the video of the person on the other end before they picked up.

The bug can be accessed by following simple steps. First start a FaceTime video call with a contact, then tap Add a Person by sliding from the bottom while the dialing continues. When you add your own number in the Add Person screen, a group FaceTime call starts which allows the caller to hear the audio of the person on the other end even without their accepting the call. The bug effectively converts the FaceTime call into a secret microphone with spying functionalities. The bug affected all iOS devices running on iOS 12.1 and later.

The app also allowed the broadcasting of video to initial caller if the recipient pressed the power button which is used typically to silence or ignore a call. The glitch concerned iOS users as it can potentially violate user’s privacy. The FaceTime has become a top viral story on all social media platforms. The bug is an embarrassment to the company which was reported on the Data Privacy Day instituted by Council of Europe Since 2007 to raise consciousness about the vital importance data privacy in the 21st century for both businesses and consumers.

The bug revelation is a severe setback for Apple’s brand image of protecting user’s privacy. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook have reiterated the company’s commitment of privacy protection as a top priority over anything else. The company is already under heightened scrutiny in Europe as European Commission is on a mission to discipline tech giants for data & privacy protection of its citizens.

The flaw’s reporting came a day before Apple planned to release its quarterly performance report. The company reported a decline in annual revenue from iPhone by 15% mainly due to the slowdown in China amid US-China trade war. It reported a total revenue of $84.3 billion, a decline of 5% from the previous year.

The bug forced apple to freeze the group functionality in the FaceTime app before a security update could be rolled out. Apple assured that new security update iOS 12.2 which will be released next week will have a permanent fix for the FaceTime problem. Apple has distinguished itself from other tech rivals by emphasizing on its enhanced privacy and security enabled software apparatus. The company which often boasts that what happens in iPhone remains in the iPhone is facing severe backlash from iOS users owing to the disastrous FaceTime glitch. The company’s ongoing headache regarding privacy protection also includes a Facebook Research app that was published by Facebook which stole data from users.

Author: Sudip Saha

Sudip Saha is one of the leading tech consultants in APAC, having served at key positions in leading IT consulting firms. He has extensively written about the commercial viability and impact of next-generation technologies, most notably AI, IoT, and Big Data. Sudip’s forte lies in offering a nuanced analysis on the key developments in the tech landscape. A reputed thought-leader, his views have been published in leading publications, including CIO, ZD Net, Economic Times, and The Economist