Apple deactivated the Walkie Talkie app on the Apple Watch after a vulnerability surfaced that allowed people to listen to other iPhone users without them knowing. The company received the notification about the problem on its report vulnerability portal and the company said that there’s no evidence to the bug being exploited.
For now, Apple has temporarily disabled the functionality until it comes out with a fix. Even though the app is installed by users, it won’t work.
Using the Walkie Talkie app, two Apple Watch users could exchange audio chats with each other using a ‘push-to-talk’ interface. This feature would work only after both the parties accepted an invite from each other.
Apple sent the following statement to TechCrunch:
“We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.”
Earlier this year, another major bug was discovered in Apple’s new Group FaceTime feature. It transmitted one user’s audio to the other even when the recipient did not pick up the call. Apple was quick to acknowledge the vulnerability and disabled Group FaceTime in iOS and macOS.