Scary new Apple Watch vulnerability gets popular app disabled while a fix is being worked on

Scary new Apple Watch vulnerability gets popular app disabled while a fix is being worked on
The market-leading Apple Watch lineup owes its immense popularity to not only a groundbreaking slew of life-saving technologies, but also a very convenient batch of smooth wrist communication features. In addition to (optional) cellular connectivity built directly into the last two generations of the iPhone-compatible wearable device, a nifty app called Walkie-Talkie was released in 2018 with push-to-talk capabilities.

This received a lot of attention when the watchOS 5 update was made available, supporting Series 1 through 4 Apple Watches and looking like a handy alternative for traditional voice calls and text messages, especially on GPS-only variants of the world's top-selling smartwatch family. Of course, the buzz quickly faded, but the Walkie-Talkie functionality is now back in the spotlight... for all the wrong reasons.

Major vulnerability discovered, app disabled


While Apple's operating systems are generally viewed as more secure than their (Google or Microsoft-made) counterparts, no such complicated piece of software can ever be truly infallible. The thing that often sets the Cupertino-based tech giant apart from the competition is the way it responds to internal or external discoveries of security issues. 

Case in point, it seems that Apple reacted to reports of this latest "vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app" very promptly, disabling the function before the flaw could ever be exploited out in the wild and obviously working on a fix to be deployed as soon as possible. While we don't know the "specific conditions and sequences of events" a potential malicious agent could have employed to exploit the vulnerability against actual users, its nature sounds pretty scary.


Apparently, the flaw could have allowed a skilled enough hacker to "listen through another customer's iPhone without consent." No further details are provided as to how far this invasion of privacy could have gone, but you can probably understand why Apple needed to take such quick, decisive, and extreme action, basically rendering the Walkie-Talkie functionality useless while cooking up a fix. 

This delicate situation brings to mind that highly publicized Group FaceTime bug from around six months back, which Apple handled with far less care and decisiveness. It's safe to say the company has learned from that particular mistake, listening more closely to user reports of security vulnerabilities.

What exactly is Walkie-Talkie and why you should (not) be worried


We could definitely explain how the app works in 100 or so words, but we'd rather leave the talking to Apple's official 2-minute promo video, which covers all the key points in great detail. While somewhat gimmicky, we can absolutely understand why certain users would find Walkie-Talkie useful in certain scenarios when writing a text or making a call on their iPhone is simply not as convenient.


At the same time, it's worth highlighting that you need to set up the Facetime app on your iPhone and be able to make and receive FaceTime audio calls to get Walkie-Talkie on your Apple Watch (Series 1 or later) up and running. That essentially means this security flaw is also related indirectly to FaceTime, which is definitely not a good look for the otherwise incredibly popular video and audio communication service.

At the end of the day, although iPhone and Apple Watch users have every reason to be annoyed by these discoveries and the temporary deactivation of the Walkie-Talkie app, the important thing to remember is this particular vulnerability was never exploited (at least to Apple's current knowledge) and the functionality will be restored "as soon as possible." 

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10 Comments

1. afrohoxha

Posts: 234; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

What is this totally different approach this site has when there is a vulnerability in Android compared to one in iOS ?? Just have a look at the words used on both cases and you'll see what I'm talking

8. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Dude, we all know and complain about it all the time. we all know they do it on purpose. ALL the writers here are a bunch of iTards.

2. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 527; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

"While Apple's operating systems are generally viewed as more secure than their (Google or Microsoft-made) counterparts, no such complicated piece of software can ever be truly infallible." Shame you don't say that when its an Android OEM who has a huge vulnerability.

3. cmdacos

Posts: 3972; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

A popular feature rarely used... #securityinmarketingonly

4. iloveapps

Posts: 724; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Envy again that apple markets privacy while your Samsung doesn’t market it because its not their feature.

5. sissy246

Posts: 7035; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Awww, proof IOS is not safe and you still can't admit it.

7. cmdacos

Posts: 3972; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Apple markets something that doesn't exist but their followers believe it's true. I can't be envious of stupidity. Sorry peaceboy...

9. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Samsung does advertise security. It's called Samsung Knox. And most issues that effect many Android devices, never are issues on Samsung devices. Samsung Knox provides an extra layer of security and protection. At least typing a character doesn't break the whole OS. Android is more advanced than IOS, get over bruh. It's a proven fact. This isn't 2007-20010 anymore.

10. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Recent versions of IOS have had more vulnerabilities than any version of Windows since Windows 7. That's saying alot when both platforms have almost the same amount of users at 1.4B give or take.

6. sissy246

Posts: 7035; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

"no such complicated piece of software can ever be truly infallible" According to all the ifanboys its 100% safe. Sorry peaceboy, your God is not as safe as you thought.

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