Apple has quietly fixed an iOS 11.3 bug that caused devices to crash when the word “Taiwan” was entered in a variety of iPhone and iPad apps, or when the Taiwan emoji was used.
The details: China is touchy about representations of Taiwan as an independent nation, so Apple removes the Taiwan emoji from phones set for the Chinese region. But in certain situations, it also incompletely removed it from phones set for other regions. When those phones tried to access the Taiwan emoji that was suggested any time a user typed Taiwan, the phone crashed.
Digita Security’s Patrick Wardle outlined in a blog post how the iOS 11.3 bug caused devices to crash on a large number of native and third-party apps, including iMessages, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
The glitch appears to have been connected to iOS code that hides the Taiwanese flag emoji on devices set to the China region. The code worked fine in China, but caused crashes on devices set to other regions.
Apple fixed the bug in iOS 11.4.1, and throws light on Apple’s willingness to soothe governments like China when it comes to sensitive political concerns. Despite Taiwan’s officially self-recognizing as an independent entity from mainland China, China still considers the island country as being its possession.
This isn’t the first time Apple has bowed to pressure from the Chinese government, as they removed a large number of VPN apps from the App Store in China in July 2017. The move came after the Chinese put in place regulations that required VPN apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.
December 2016 saw the Cupertino firm remove both the English-language and Chinese-language versions of The New York Times app from the App Store in China, after being told by authorities they were in violation of local regulations.