Apple have confirmed a worrying bug in their FaceTime chat app. It has been discovered that it is possible to initiate a FaceTime call in such a way that both the microphone and even the camera of the recipient are activated before they've agreed to accept the call. To make matters worse, there is no indication on the recipient's phone that this is happening.
Unlike many bugs, this doesn't require any IT knowledge to exploit. All one needs to do to try this themselves is to call a contact on FaceTime, swipe up and add a person to the call, then just add your number. At this point, you will hear the audio at the recipient's end, even if they haven't responded. This will continue for as long as the call continues to ring. On top of that, if the recipient hits the power button at this point, the camera is activated as well.
At the time of writing, this bug still exists. Apple is currently working on a fix that will be deployed in the coming days. Make sure you apply any software updates for your phone and / or Mac as soon as possible. For the cautious or anyone that never uses FaceTime anyway, it's possible to disable the feature entirely to ensure something like this can never happen.
This comes during a troubling time for Apple. Their share price has dropped sharply over the past few months. Investors seem to be wondering where the next innovation is coming from as it becomes clear that just releasing incrementally better iThings is no longer generating the profits it did a few years ago. One of the main things that Apple have been lauded for in the past is for creating devices that "just work". If fundamental bugs like this and the recent one that allowed anyone to log in to any Mac with no password and be granted admin access keep cropping up, things may get even worse for the company.