In Depth

Apple FaceTime ‘eavesdropping’ bug: what’s gone wrong and how to disable the app

Tech giant promises to launch fix and update this week

Apple has suspended part of its FaceTime video-calling app after a software glitch let people “eavesdrop” on unsuspecting iPhone users. 

According to 9to5Mac, FaceTime users could call anyone using the app and “immediately hear the audio coming from their phone” - before the person on the other end had accepted or rejected the incoming call. 

In some cases, the bug also resulted in video being broadcast from the recipient’s device. 

The glitch affects devices running the latest version of the tech giant’s mobile operating system, iOS 12.1, which is available on all models from the 2013 iPhone 5S to the new XS, XS Max and XR handsets. 

The Verge reports that the problem is linked to the app’s new Group video-calling feature and occurs when a user “swipes up” during a call and taps on their own phone number. 

“Once you’ve added yourself, FaceTime immediately seems to assume it’s an active conference call and begins sending the audio of the person you’re calling, even though they haven’t yet picked up,” the website adds. 

An Apple spokesperson told Reuters that the company is “aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week”.

In the meantime, the tech giant has disabled FaceTime’s group call feature until it is fixed.

Ironically, the discovery of the glitch on Monday coincided with National Privacy Day in the US - an event that is “heralded” by Apple chief executive Tim Cook, says the BBC.

The privacy faux-pas has also been widely reported on social media, with tech experts including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey calling on users to temporarily deactivate the FaceTime app.

How to disable FaceTime

Deactivating the entire app may be unnecessary, given that Apple has already disabled the defective feature.

But to play it safe, iPhone and iPad users can go to Settings, then FaceTime, and then toggle the green switch into the off position, the Daily Express says.

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