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Apple Turns Off Apple Watch Walkie-Talkies to Nix Eavesdropping Bug



Posted July 12, 2019

In response to the discovery of a new critical error in one of Apple's own apps, the company has disabled Apple Watches functionality to protect users.

The problem lies in the Walkie-Talkie app, a standard app on Apple Watch designed to let users connect with one of their friends directly for "push-to-talk" chat. Once a staple feature on older mobile phones, Apple Walkie-Talkie included as a fun addition – yet it seems to have come with a not-so-fun side effect by itself. The details are scarce, but Apple says it learned about a security error in the app via a submission to the public report "Report a vulnerability".

What can this exploitation allow? Apple says someone who exploits a particular set of steps to trigger the error can use it to listen to someone else's iPhone or Apple Watch without their permission ̵

1; an obvious privacy concern. Apple did not state what the process needed to trigger the error, but stated that they were unaware of any cases of exploitation against a real customer. However, by an abundance of caution, they struck off the access to the Walkie Talkie app for now.

This event is reminiscent of the Cupertino company's response to a serious problem in Group FaceTime, discovered by a teenage gamer, who might have allowed users to cancel others through an unusual series of user inputs. In that case, the Apple Group turned the FaceTime servers on until they could formulate and distribute a solution to resolve the issue. The situation with Walkie-Talkie functionality seems to be similar.

Apple is expected to release an update to rectify the error and to re-enable the feature as soon as possible, even if the company did not provide any timeframe in initial notice. Come back for more information when this story evolves.

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