A FaceTime Bug Lets You Hear the Audio of Those Being Called Before They Answer [Updated]

BY Evan Selleck

Published 29 Jan 2019

FaceTime Group Video Calling 2

FaceTime is a solid feature for Apple products, but it appears a bug is causing a major issue.

As was first reported by 9to5Mac on Monday, a pretty serious bug related to Apple’s audio and video calling feature has been discovered. With it, someone can actually make a call with FaceTime and hear the audio of the person on the other end — even before they answer the call. At the time of publication, it appears that the listening part happens alongside the calling part, so it isn’t a completely discrete method. However, as long as the phone is ringing with the incoming FaceTime call, the person calling is able to hear the audio on the other side.

According to the report, the bug is present on iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later. It is also capable of working on a call from an iPhone to a Mac as well. In that case, the ability to listen in on the audio before the person answers can be longer, as the Mac rings more than an iOS device.

Here is how to replicate the issue, which is not super obvious, but it isn’t all that difficult, either:

  • Start a FaceTime Video call with an iPhone contact.
  • Whilst the call is dialling, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap Add Person.
  • Add your own phone number in the Add Person screen.
  • You will then start a group FaceTime call including yourself and the audio of the person you originally called, even if they haven’t accepted the call yet.

As mentioned above, while the caller can hear the audio without the recipient actually answering, this happens while the phone is ringing. That means, at the very least, the phone is obviously drawing attention to itself while the caller can hear the audio. However, there is clearly not any kind of indication that the caller can hear the person who is getting the call, which is obvious issue.

It is unknown if Apple can fix this issue server-side, or if it will require a proper update to iOS in general. It is also worth noting that the bug does not provide a look at the person, or their surroundings, via the front-facing camera. The bug only impact audio.

Apple will surely aim to fix this as soon as possible, as this is a major issue. However, there is no telling when that fix might arrive considering that the issue is just now getting attention. One can hope that it’s soon.

Update: Apple has confirmed that it will roll out a software update to fix the bug later this week.

Update: Here’s how you can turn off FaceTime on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac until Apple rolls out an update to fix the issue.

[via 9to5Mac]