Please note that an update has been added to the end of this article.
A newly discovered FaceTime bug lets you listen to the audio of the person you’re calling before they’ve even answered.
The troubling flaw came to light today and has been replicated numerous times by iPhone owners, many posting their results on social media.
According to 9to5Mac, the bug appears to affect calls between Apple devices running iOS 12.1 or later, and also occurs on Mac computers receiving a FaceTime call.
Through several simple steps (listed below), it’s possible to connect the call and listen in to the audio of the recipient before he or she has accepted or rejected it. Once the call connects, any ringtone will stop sounding but the display will still be asking the recipient to respond.
The caller and recipient can hear one another, but if the caller stays quiet, the recipient will have no idea that their microphone is working.
We’ve reached out to Apple for a response to the issue and will update this article when we hear back.
FaceTime enables video and audio calls among iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users, and the bug presents a serious privacy issue for the tech giant. The issue seems to be related to FaceTime’s Group Call feature, which launched in 2018.
It only takes a few steps to replicate the bug:
– From your iPhone, tap on an iOS contact to initiate a FaceTime video call.
– As the call sounds, swipe up from the bottom of the display and tap Add Person.
– Enter your own phone number in the Add Person screen.
– This initiates a group FaceTime call and fires up the microphone of the person you’re calling, feeding their audio through to your phone even before they respond.
While it hardly turns your iPhone into a spy tool worthy of an appearance in a Bond movie, it could nevertheless cause some awkward situations should you go ahead and try to replicate the bug for yourself without first informing the recipient of the call.
After all, how will you feel if you hear the recipient sigh heavily as they see who’s calling, or worse, if they utter something along the lines of, “FFS, not him again,” before answering in a jolly voice?
Once Apple has confirmed the validity of the bug for itself, we can expect an update to squash it in the coming days. In the meantime, if you decide to test it out, it’s only right that you let the other person know first. Otherwise don’t be too upset if you don’t like what you hear …
Updated on January 28: Apple has now disabled the Group FaceTime function while it works on a fix. Check its System Status page for the latest information.