Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug that allowed people to eavesdrop on other people’s iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug that was publicized earlier this week.
  • Seen as a major privacy flaw, the bug gave anyone with FaceTime the ability to listen in on other people’s iPhones.
  • Apple said in a statement Friday that the bug had been fixed on its servers and that a software update was coming next week to restore any features that were turned off.

Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug that allowed people to eavesdrop on others’ iPhones.

The bug, first widely publicized this week, was viewed as a major privacy flaw and has even drawn calls for investigations from officials like New York Attorney General Letitia James.

In a statement issued Friday, Apple apologized for its error.

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue,” Apple said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.”

Apple said it had fixed the bug on its servers but needed an iPhone software update to turn the feature back on. It said such an update was coming next week. Apple previously said a software update would be released this week.

It also thanked the family that several media reports said had reported the bug to Apple earlier in January before the bug became widely known.

The bug allowed people to listen in to an iPhone’s microphone by starting a FaceTime videoconferencing call and adding their number as a third party on the call. That was enabled by Group FaceTime, a new feature introduced late last year.

The bug was particularly embarrassing given Apple’s recent campaign touting its privacy bona fides compared with those of rivals like Google.

Here’s Apple’s full statement:

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week. We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.

“We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix. We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports, in order to get them to the right people as fast as possible. We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”