iOS Messages Arabic string bug iPhone screenshot 002

An odd bug that lets ill-minded folk send you a message which causes your iPhone to respring has been making rounds.

In case you missed it, a very specific string of symbols and Arabic characters sent through iMessage or SMS sends an iPhone in an immediate respring, causing the device to crash and quickly reboot, as first noticed on Reddit.

It’s a serious issue which in some instances can break the Messages app on your iPhone so here are a few possible workaround solutions until Apple delivers a proper fix.

Understanding the bug

So-called “Unicode of Death,” the actual “bug” stems from the way Unicode decodes characters, causing the above string to decode to an infinitely repeating message.

What happens next is your iPhone’s memory gets overwhelmed in the process, causing the phone to respring. You don’t even have to open the message or receive a notification, it’s an insta-respring.

Having tried it out myself, I can safely report that the bug seems to work as described above. Having texted the offending message to myself, I immediately switched to the System Monitor app, a 99 cent download in the App Store, to check system resources.

Sure enough, I was able to watch RAM on my device go from around 400MB of free memory down to less than a hundred.

iOS Messages Arabic string bug iPhone screenshot 001

As soon as the amount of free RAM went below 50MB, my iPhone suddenly wigged out. Users who are jailbroken have reported that the code causes their iPhone to go into safe mode, which typically happens when the Springboard crashes.

What apps and iOS versions are affected?

Crashing seems to occur in iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3 versions. The reportedly manifests itself in WhatsApp, too, though I couldn’t verify this at post time. According to some reports, the bug doesn’t crash the device if the person sent you the message while you were looking at the conversation with them.

Some people blame the bug on how banner notifications process the Unicode text. Apparently, the banner notification briefly attempts to present the incoming text and then gives up, crashing the device. Furthermore, the phone will reboot even if the message hits it while you’re on the Lock screen.

Possible ways to mitigate the issue

Disable Messages alerts
Many affected users have suggested that setting notification previews to None and disabling Show on Lock Screen in Settings > Notifications > Messages prevents this behavior, which would explain why WhatsApp also crashes the device after receiving the Unicode string of Death.

iOS Messages Arabic string bug iPhone screenshot 003

You may also want to set Show in Notification Center to None as some users claim the issue immediately restarts their device after they try to pull up the text from the Notification Center.

I wouldn’t recommend sending the offending message without the “effective” and “Power” because Messages will break and you will no longer be able to access it. As MacRumors explained, if Messages was opened at a list view, the app crashes automatically when you try to open it.

“If it was opened to the conversation where you received the message, the app will open, but attempting to go to another conversation causes Messages to crash,” explains the publication.

iOS Messages Arabic string bug iPhone screenshot 004

Use Photos to send a random photo
Another Reddit thread offers a workaround solution which involves opening the Photos app to send a random photo to the person who texted you the message, then going into iMessage and deleting the conversation.

Send a message to yourself
If you still can’t access Messages, or find yourself stuck in the conversation, replying to the original message or sending a message to yourself fixes the problem.

Fortunately, you can ask Siri to send a message to yourself. Another method involves opening the Notes app, creating a new note and sending it via Messages to yourself through the Share sheet.

This should clear away the malicious message.

Delete the offending conversation
Finally, try tapping and holding on any individual bubble in the conversation until the menu appears. Now choose More and then Delete All at the top of the screen. This should purge all of the offending text and keep the Messages app from crashing.

Filter unknown senders in Messages
And if I might make another recommendation, I’d advise you to go to Settings > Messages and enable Filter Unknown Senders.

Jailbreak tweak
There are a couple jailbreak tweaks available that will help prevent Effective Power from affecting your device to begin with.

This will enable the Unknown Senders Filter in Messages. You will still receive messages from people not in your address book, they’ll just go to the Unknown Senders section in Messages and you won’t receive alerts for these.

Apple told TechCrunch it’s aware of the problem and working on a fix.

“We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of Unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update,” said an Apple spokesperson.

Source: Reddit, MacRumors

  • That_Fruitarian

    How to get around it? Lmao!!! Slow day.

  • o_o

    How do people even discover this stuff? What kinda life….

    • Elias Chao

      Maybe they realise that certain characters consume a lot of memory to being processed, then make a string of this characters an voilà.

    • McBobson

      It’s a bug in Regex.

    • JWSnavely

      Probably by accident. This wasn’t that mysterious. Basically the message has to be long enough to become truncated in the notification generating the “…” at the end. Second it also has to have Unicode characters in it so Arabic is just a great example.

      But you could crash it with something this too…

      “just a

      thought..

      ا ॣ ॣ ॣ

      😉 ”

      Honestly if anything I’m a little surprised this hasn’t become a big deal before this.

  • Dallas Groot

    This has been fixed in iOS 8.4.

    • Dallas Groot

      iOS 8.4

      • Hi

        That’s the wrong message. This is the right one:

        effective.
        Power
        لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

      • Rodney Coleman

        No it has not.. I’m on iOS 8.4

      • Brandon Kachevas

        yes it has i have IOS 8.4 it wont work anymore

    • Chris Gilmore

      Nope. I did this to myself running the latest beta. It works still.

    • ravinigga

      I think iOS 8.3.1

  • Gabriel Anaya

    This better get fixed in 8.4

    • Dallas Groot

      It has.

      • Rodney Coleman

        It has not been fixed

    • McBobson

      effective.
      Power
      لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

      • Raymart

        effective. 
        Power
        لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

  • Elias Chao

    I sent this message to myself to see what would happen, my iPhone did respring, but I can access to he Message app without any problem.

    I tried to do the same with Whatsapp, but -I don’t know why- the messages I send to myself no longer arrive into the conversation. The blue double check appears though.

  • B.A.M.F.

    thats awesome. how can i get that text to send to people? i wanna mess with some of my friends lol

    • Hi

      Send This to people:

      effective.
      Power
      لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

  • Cole Mahoney

    It happens to me on iOS 8.4 beta 3

    • The Truth Hurts

      so much for Dallas Groot claiming it’s been fixed for 8.4

  • Jamessmooth

    “ill-minded folk” hahahaha

  • Eric Sims

    Ok, none of the workarounds are working for me, the messages app still crashes.

    • Eric Sims

      Do they mean it will fix the app or thats just how we have to deal with it until a fix?

    • Mee

      Go to the share sheet in the photos app and send any photo to your iMessage-registered emails and numbers. All of them individually. Then wait until your phone gets them (all of them) and open messages and search for the name of the contact who sent the message to you. Delete the convo and/or reply to it with normal text. That worked for me, it’s still crashing when I scroll halfway through my convos but I can access everyone through the search bar. Good luck!

    • Jared Dory

      Go into notes and type a random message, and hit share and message the person who sent it to you will fix it

      • Eric Sims

        I got it fixed! Thanks

  • Donovan

    It’s even nastier when it’s send trough Whatsapp

  • Inseltraeumer

    Another very effective preventative measure is have no friends at all. Works for me.

  • LocalH

    The way I understand it, it’s a bug in the way that iOS shortens strings for the listviews and notifications, which is why sending yourself a text (from Siri or the Photos app) fixes it even though the string is still in your messages. Apparently, iOS doesn’t check for multi-byte characters properly when abbreviating, at least in some cases.

  • Stayo

    I posted about this bug in the iDownloadBlog comments before the reddit post even existed.

  • My brother just pulled this trick on me. He barely pays attention to the tech scene, yet he somehow finds this out.

  • iBanks

    Just had a customer come in with this issue, the message was unread and could gain access to it becaus the app will crash. I had Siri read the unread message and then had Siri send an message saying “hey” and that cleared it up.

  • iOS 8.4 beta as well
    Got respring on the latest beta

  • Alejandro Delgado

    Attempting to paste the string of code to a conversation in Telegram crashes the app lol. And i wanted to mess with people

  • Aniket Bhatt

    If you have do not disturb on for a particular chat it doesn’t happen

  • Batikeler

    A friend of mine sent me this message from WhatsApp (Not sure if it is WhatsApp or not) Now my phone is crashing on the lock screen for the past 40 minutes. I can’t access any of the features of the phone. Any suggestion on how to fix?

    • Batikeler

      After nearly an hour it fixed itself. I have no idea what happened.

  • f96lrs

    fixed in ios 84 b 3

  • Iuri Dos Santos Cunha

    This isn’t working. I’ve sent this to various people and they replied within the minute

  • Eyal Rotem

    For those who keep getting into safe mode! –
    It seems “perpetual” (persistent notification on lock screen tweak)
    And “priority hub” (lock screen notification manager tweak)
    Reproduce respringing as an after effect. Probably because of them handling notifications which are the cause of this bug.
    Hope this helps, because I got real frustrated until I figuared out what caused me to go to safe mode all the time.

  • Eyal Rotem

    Please state its name for the sake of all of us jailbroken folk

  • Nex

    What is the tweak?

  • gittlopctbi

    I don’t get it–how does anyone figure this stuff out?

  • Dominic LoFranco

    What is the tweak called?

  • Rodney Coleman

    effective. 
    Power
    لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

  • Aaron de Silva

    Doesn’t seem to crash on whatsap. #justsaying

  • Stayo

    Guys I sent this to my friends phone and now he can’t open his message app. What can he do to fix it??

    • Eddy Castro

      Send him a regular message. That should fix it. Or tell him to send himself a message using siri (or picture, etc)

      • Stayo

        I did that but it didn’t work. Anything else??

  • Dominic LoFranco

    Hey Jeff, Is there in Jailbreak Tweak that can block specific texts from being received. Not by blocking someone, just a specific text.

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    So I just tried it on myself and it didnt work…lol I’m kinda disappointed. I dont know what I did wrong.

    • Eddy Castro

      I’ve noticed that the text with the word power on the second line doesnt work for me. BUt if power is next to effective it crashes my phone. Like this

      effective. Power
      لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        That did it! lol I think I also had too many spaces in there. Now I shall try it on a victim…hehehehe

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        I just noticed if you send it to someone it also crashes YOUR messages as well..lol I dont like that. Last time I’m doing that.

  • How in the world do you have 400MB free of memory? I’m constantly at 95% or more on my 6. :

  • Rohman Khan

    If your imessage crashes you have to go into your settings- messages- filter unknown sender turn that on. Then the crashes will stop. If you cant find it on your settings you have to update you IOS device

  • Dominic LoFranco

    Thanks man Kudos to you 🙂

  • Alex Wong

    So use spot light search if you can’t find the person that sent you it! Worked for me search “power”

  • tyedyeguy0000

    Ive been messing around with this and i found that you dont need all that. all thats needed is ل ॣ ॣ ॣ ॣ

  • Jake Long

    What part of “the bug doesn’t crash the device if the person sent you the message while you were looking at the conversation with them.” did you not understand?

    • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

      Don’t be an ass. I sent the message, quickly locked my phone and it didn’t work for me, but the only reason why it didn’t work is because I have messages notifications disabled oh my lock screen.

  • melih

    my phone keeps crashing since my friend sent me 9 . it just keeps crashing after it shows me lock screen

  • melih

    did you find a solution?

  • georgette

    How I have this message on my Iphone