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Tech by VICE

A Bug in iOS Is Causing Safari to Crash When Tapping Links

Tapping links has never been so frustrating for some users of iOS.

by Nicholas Deleon
Mar 29 2016, 3:49pm

Image: LWYang/Flickr

Samsung isn't the only smartphone maker battling annoying bugs. Apple said Tuesday that it was aware of complaints about iOS apps like Safari and Mail freezing and crashing after tapping certain links. Apple, as typically happens in these scenarios, said a fix will be released soon but has not said exactly when that will be.

The bug first gained prominence just a few days ago, after people took to places like Apple's official support forum and the company's recently-launched Twitter customer service account to say that apps like Safari and Mail, the default web browser and email app of iOS, respectively, were hanging after tapping links inside these apps. Independent developers managed to track down the issue to a bug in the way iOS handles abnormally large URL association files—basically, the file that tells iOS when to open an app instead of a webpage when tapping on a link.

Normally, an app would merely list the website's domain (such as weather.com), resulting in a small file that tells iOS to open that app instead of its website whenever a link is tapped. Booking.com's app, meanwhile, listed every single one of its URLs (booking.com/1.html, booking.com/2.html, and so on) in that URL association file—bogging down iOS in the process and causes apps like Safari and Mail to hang whenever links are tapped.

While the Booking.com app does appear to have been fixed on Monday, other apps, including Wikipedia and Eat 24, have also reportedly caused similar problems. While you might criticize these apps' developers for coding their apps in a non-standard way, a fix directly from Apple is the only way to ultimately solve the problem.

Apple most recently patched a bug in its iOS Messages platform that security researchers noted could allow an attacker to decrypt previously encrypted messages.

Update: Apple on March 31 released iOS 9.3.1, which includes a fix for this nasty little bug. To force the update now go to General -> Software Update in your iPhone/iPad's Settings app.