A new iOS bug that displays an unusual Indian symbol is having a devastating effect on some Apple gadgets, causing iPhones to crash and disabling access to iMessages and WhatsApp.
Opening a message containing the character - from Telugu, an Indian dialect - can be enough to cause serious problems, tech experts warn.
Devices running iOS11.2.5 or MacOS are most susceptible to the bug, which causes iOS Springboard, the system app which manages a device's homescreen, to crash.
The bug can also affect users' ability to access Facebook Messenger, Outlook for iOS and Gmail.
The bug, referred to as a "text bomb", was first reported on Italian blog Mobile World.
The character which causes the problem is used in the written version of an Indian language spoken by approximately 70 million people.
— Handility (@handility) February 15, 2018
When apps try to load the character, it sets off a domino effect of crashing apps.
"The error we are talking about presents an Indian character that, if received or simply pasted in a text field, can lead to freeze of applications or crashes of the entire operating system," Mobile World blogger Giuseppe Tripodi writes.
"The situation gets worse if someone sends you the symbol and iOS tries to show it in a notification. In this case, the entire Springboard will be blocked."
It is expected that the problem will be fixed when the new iOS11.3 is released in the next few months.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE THE CHARACTER
Get someone else to message you and delete the thread containing the message with the character in it
"Wait and hope that the Springboard will restart properly" Giuseppe Tripodi writes. "Because if you force a reboot of the device, it will bootloop." (endless attempts at restarting).