Apple rolls out iOS 12.4, watchOS 5.3 updates; Walkie-Talkie now back on Watch

Walkie-Talkie feature had a vulnerability that allowed people to eavesdrop on other iPhone users.

Last week, Apple disabled the Walkie-Talkie feature from all its wearables after a vulnerability surfaced that allowed people to listen to other iPhone users without them knowing. However, with the release of watchOS 5.3 and iOS 12.4 today, Apple has fixed the bug and restored the Walkie-Talkie functionality for Apple Watch.

The updates for both the Apple Watch and iPhones primarily comes with bug fixes and the changelog focuses on mostly the fix for the Walkie-Talkie functionality. Per watchOS 5.3 release notes, the update comes with “important security updates including a fix for the Walkie-Talkie app”.

Apple Watch Series 4. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne

Apple Watch Series 4. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne

Similarly, in the release notes for iOS 12.4, Apple says the update “includes a security fix for the Walkie-Talkie app on Apple Watch and re-enables Walkie-Talkie functionality.”

watchOS 5.3 and iOS 12.4 are now available for all users.

The Walkie-Talkie app was added in watchOS 5 update last year. Using the app, two Apple Watch users could exchange audio chats with each other using a ‘push-to-talk’ interface. This feature works only after both the parties accepted an invite from each other. However, due to the recent bug, users' audio was being sent to others without their knowledge. While Apple acknowledged and fixed the issue, they never really revealed the details on what caused the problem.

Earlier this year, another, somewhat-similar bug was discovered in Apple’s 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. The company later fixed and re-released the ability to group call on the app.

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