A software update meant to fix a serious eavesdropping FaceTime bug is reportedly on the horizon. The flaw stemmed from the recent release of the Group FaceTime feature and allowed users to start a video call and instantly hear the audio from the recipient’s microphone without their permission.
The glitch was widely publicized on Monday, prompting Apple to take the Group FaceTime servers offline until further notice. On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Cupertino-based company was gearing up to ship a patch eliminating the security bug and bringing back GroupFaceTime access to iPhones, iPads, and Mac devices.
Apple was slow to respond the issue, the NYT states. The problem was was initially reported on January 19, ten days before it winded up being re-reported by the media, prompting Apple to finally disable Group FaceTime servers and issue a fix.
The snafu was awkward for smartphone giant, CEO Tim Cook has been outspoken about his company’s efforts to protect consumer privacy for quite some time. He even went as far as chastising his tech competitors for monetizing personal user data and called for further government regulation in a recent Time op-ed.
While the timing was particularly awkward, given the privacy op-ed and Apple’s Tuesday earnings call, the company has weathered bigger hardware and software scandals in the past with little blowback, three Apple analysts told Inverse Tuesday.
To the contrary, the whole escapade might even wind up serving as a net-positive by delivering so much free publicity to a relatively unknown and little-used feature. The group video call feature was announced in June of last year during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but was delayed until October.
How to Update When the Fix Ships
The patch will work just like any other iOS or macOS update. For iPhone or iPad, tap the Settings app, open the General menu, and navigate to Software Update. Once the fix is released your devices will give you an Install Now option. Make sure you have a backup of your current version saved just in case anything goes wrong.
On a Mac computer, begin by opening the App Store, click on the Updates menu, and hit Update. If you’re running anything older than MacOS Mojave, you’ll need to update to that before the FaceTime patch becomes available.