Apple Watch disables Walkie-Talkie function over eavesdropping bug
Priya Wadhwa
10x Industry

Apple Watch disables Walkie-Talkie function over eavesdropping bug

Privacy concerns highlighted once again

Apple has been facing a few issues lately, mostly to do with privacy concerns.

Earlier this year Apple had to disable its FaceTime calling feature after a vulnerability was exposed in the new group calling functionality, that allowed people to listen in on devices before a call was picked up. Just a few days ago it also removed Zoom’s web server software from Macs due to the bug that allowed hackers to take control of a user’s webcam.

This time, it is the Walkie-Talkie feature on the Apple Watch that come into question, that could let people listen in on other iPhones. Although the details were not shared, Apple said “specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it.”

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.
Apple’s statement to TechCrunch
Privacy concerns are growing with the advancement of camera features such as ‘face recognition’ and ‘auto-brightness.’ These essentially work by having the camera always on. Apple is not the only one that needs to stay one step ahead of hackers to ensure the privacy of its users. Many other mobile manufacturers face these issues.

For example, Oneplus’s latest phones do not allow the camera to be covered, because the phone goes automatically into ‘pocket mode’ that cannot be overridden to unlock the phone. Although it hasn’t reported any issues of data leaks so far.