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| Apple Confirms A Serious New Problem For iPhone Users | #iphone | #ios | #cybersecurity | #informationsecurity


07/12 Update below. This post was originally published on July 9

Apple has recently confirmed two serious problems for iPhones and iPads, and now there’s another. 

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First spotted by MacRumors, a growing number of iPhone users are reporting severe battery drain problems. It centers on Apple Music and you don’t need to be a subscriber to be affected. The preinstalled app is monopolizing battery resources regardless (even if you delete it) and badly hit iPhones only last a few hours on a full charge. Apple Support is acknowledging the problem, but currently the only workaround it offers is a full factory reset – aka the nuclear option.

07/11 Update: millions of iPhone owners have been hit by a second problem in the last 24 hours with many of the most popular iOS apps, including Spotify, Tinder, Pinterest, TikTok, Venmo, repeatedly crashing when opened. The problem actually stems from a bug in Facebook’s SDK which allows these apps to integrate Login with Facebook functionality and even if you don’t use Facebook to log into these apps, you would still be affected simply because the functionality is part of the app. This is the second time Facebook’s APK has gone down in 2020 and it is exposing a fundamental weakness in the integration of Facebook with iOS apps (Android apps were unaffected). Facebook has now fixed the problem, but there is clearly work to be done if iPhone and iPad users are not to be hit by this again and again.

07/12 Update: Apple has confirmed to me that it is aware of the problem and is investigating. iOS 13.6 and iPadOS 13.6 were expected to launch last week, so it is unclear whether Apple is trying to make a last minute addition to the code to fix this issue or whether the company can address this remotely. As mentioned below, server side faults are normally fixed quickly but reports are still flooding in across social media with user anger growing over the “insane” and “ridiculous” levels of battery drain. Some are also calling out Apple for “ignoring” the problem – which I can confirm it is not. What makes this more complex is some users are totally unaffected, while those affected include both Apple Music subscribers and non-subscribers across all models of iOS 13-supported iPhones, so there’s no clear pattern here. Apple needs to fix this, and soon.

Moreover, the problem seems to affect all supported iPhone models (and some iPads) across multiple versions of iOS, including both iOS 13.6 and iOS 14 betas. And the issue appears to be spreading quickly.

Since the MacRumors report, users have flooded Twitter, jumped on Reddit (1,2,3,4) and mentions of the problem on Apple’s own Support Communities forum has seen one thread grow to 11 pages with more than 500 users saying they have this problem, while another has passed 30 pages at the time of publication with over 1800 users saying they have the problem. Comments on MacRumors’ article also blew up.

If you’d like to diagnose whether your device is affected, navigate to: Settings > Battery > Show Activity. Affected users will see Apple Music background usage is off the scale. Some users have found that doing an iCloud reset helps, others have got usage back to normal by deleting the app but, as mentioned above, for others this makes no difference. Apple Support’s factory reset suggestion also works but should be a last resort. 

So what is causing this? Given the breadth of devices and iOS versions suddenly struck down, all signs point to this being a server side issue. Whether it can also be fixed from the server side is unknown, but we would normally have seen this by now. Apple iOS 13.6 is set to launch this week (potentially as soon as tomorrow) but, again, has Apple had enough time to squeeze in a fix or will be we waiting for iOS 13.6.1 or even iOS 14?

The good news is iOS 14’s inclusivity buys Apple time but pressure is now mounting for the company to explain what is going on. I have contacted Apple about these reports and will update this post when I know more. 

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