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A new bug can crash any Apple device with just one simple character — and Apple's working to fix it

Apple is not having its best week. Following a deluge of bad reports on its new HomePod speaker — mixed reviews, reports of stained furniture, and even somewhat scarce profits — it's now under scrutiny for yet another software issue.

The latest bug, discovered by the Italian blog Mobile World, is focused on a single character of a local Indian language, Telugu, that once typed can cause Apple devices to misbehave, crash, or even end up stuck in a bootloop.

If a user were to open any conversation in a text-based app like WhatsApp, Twitter, or Facebook Messenger and type the character, the app will crash, and it will keep force closing each time you try to reopen it.

As The Verge reported, the bug also afflicts other third-party applications, such as Gmail and Outlook for iOS, while others like Skype and Telegram seem to be unaffected.

If someone else were to send the character as a text, the notification snippet containing the character could also freeze or restart the entire iOS springboard by itself (the springboard is the system application that runs the home screen of iOS devices).

Mobile World suggests that, in that case, users wait for the device to reboot itself automatically, because forcing it to do so may result in a bootloop.

Mobile World also says the bug afflicts platforms beyond iOS: watchOS and macOS apps like Notes, Safari, and the App Store all reportedly crash as soon as the infamous character shows up.

A recent community bug report over at OpenRadar confirmed as much: "Try to insert [the symbol] in any system text renderer like TextField, Label, TextView it has always crashed."

The only safe operating system seems to be iOS 11.3, which is only publicly available in beta form. You can watch Mobile World's full demonstrative video (in Italian) below.

Apple has since confirmed the issue is fixed in the beta version of iOS 11.3 for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, and the company said it's working on a wider fix to push out for the current version of iOS.

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Apple admits its new $350 speaker can leave permanent white rings on wooden surfaces and furniture

Early reviewers of Apple's new HomePod smart speaker have noticed an issue with the $350 device: It can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces.

Reviewers at Wirecutter and Pocket-lint noticed that the HomePod left behind a semipermanent white ring on some wooden tables and countertops. Both said that the HomePod didn't leave rings on every type of wooden surface but that it seemed to affect countertops or tables treated with oil.

Apple confirmed to both publications that the device could damage some surfaces but said the marks should fade over time.

Here's how Pocket-lint described it:

"When questioned, Apple told us it was 'not unusual' for a speaker with a silicone base to leave a 'mild mark' when placed on certain oil or wax based wood finished surfaces, suggesting the marks are caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface."

Apple told Wirecutter that "cleaning the surface with the manufacturer's suggested oiling method" should remove the marks. If not, refinishing the surface would solve the issue — though that isn't a great option for anyone with high-end furniture.

As Apple pointed out, this most likely isn't a HomePod-specific issue. One person on Twitter said that the same thing happened to him while using an Echo Dot and that re-oiling the wood and putting a cork coaster underneath the device solved the issue.

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Snapchat executive exits after less than two years

Jeff Lucas, VP and global head of sales for Snapchat parent company Snap, is leaving the company.

Lucas’s departure from Snap was first reported by financial-news network Cheddar. He previously was a longtime sales and marketing exec at Viacom, rising to head the media conglomerate’s sales division before joining Snap in 2016.

A Snap rep confirmed Lucas is leaving the social-messaging and media company but declined to provide additional comment.

The exit by Lucas comes just a few weeks after word that Snap VP of product Tom Conrad would be leaving the company in March and plans to retire from the tech business altogether.

Snap is not seeking to replace Lucas, who had reported to chief strategy officer Imran Khan.

Instead, with Lucas’s departure, Snap is adopting a distributed-leadership model, with five execs reporting up to Khan. Those are: Luke Kallis, head of West Coast sales; Sharon Silverstein, head of central U.S. region sales; Brett Wein, now head of East Coast sales; Claire Valoti, former GM of U.K. sales who is now managing all of international sales; and Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, now in charge of team dedicated to agencies and key accounts.

Last week Snap reported its best quarter ever last week since its March 2017 IPO, beating Wall Street revenue expectations for the fourth quarter of 2017 and posting the biggest net user addition in over a year. The company also announced that it paid media partners more than $100 million during Q4.

Meanwhile, Snapchat is facing a widespread backlash over its major app redesign, with many users complaining that the new version is harder to use.

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