Patrick Wardle of Digita Security outlined in a blog post how the bug in iOS 11.3 caused instant failures in a variety of native and third-party applications for iPhone and iPad, including iMessages, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Wardle explained that although some aspects of the error were unclear, his research found that a "null" code would cause the lock when a "removeEmoji" operation prompted the system to verify the language / region settings of the device.
The error seems to be self-made, since iOS contains code that hides the emoji of the Taiwanese flag on devices installed in the region of China. Apparently, the code worked for iOS devices established in China, but it caused blockages in devices configured in other regions.
While Apple solved the problem in iOS 11.4.1 after Wardle reported it, the appearance of the error highlights Apple's willingness to appease China when it comes to sensitive political issues. Taiwan and China have had a troubled relationship since the Chinese Civil War, with China long considering that Taiwan is under its sovereignty, even though Taiwan officially recognizes itself as an independent democracy completely separate from mainland China.
Apple has made similar moves in the past to protect its important Chinese market. In July of 2017, for example, Apple eliminated many VPN applications from the App Store in China, following the regulations approved earlier in the year that require these applications to be authorized by the Chinese government.
In December 2016, the company was forced to remove the English and Chinese versions of the application The New York Times from the Chinese App Store, after the Chinese authorities informed it that They were in violation of local regulations.
Another case of Apple's censorship in China included the forced closure of iTunes Movies and the iBooks Store, following the release of the controversial independent film Ten Years that won the award for best film in the Hong Kong Film Awards. The dystopian film imagines Hong Kong in 2025 with the language police, the mini red guards, the radical protest and the uproar of social alienation.
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