Apple Pulls Group FaceTime After Bug Reports but Still Faces Legal Challenges

Apple is taking a fair amount of heat for a bug that was discovered with their Group FaceTime feature. This allowed others to peep in on you for a short bit of time without you accepting the call. They have disabled the feature but are still facing legal challenges.

Apple FaceTime Bug

FaceTime has always been one of Apple’s premier features on iOS. The video call feature brought people together in the same way as Skype with just a bit more style. IOS 12 brought the ability for Group FaceTime, video chatting with multiple people.

A bug with this feature was recently noticed. The call recipient’s device could be tricked into thinking it’s an ongoing group call. The microphone could be turned on, allowing the caller to listen in on the recipient.

Further, if the recipient goes on to silence or dismiss the call, the camera would turn on as well. The recipient is oblivious to their audio and/or camera being turned on, as their device’s display continues to show the incoming call screen.

FaceTime users were encouraged to disable the feature immediately when this news initially hit. It didn’t matter, though, as Apple disabled the feature themselves through their server. They announced there would be a patch for it later this week.


However, that promise doesn’t seem to be good enough for law enforcement. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced they plan to investigate Apple and the FaceTime bug with regards to what they refer to as the company’s “slow response.”

This is because this wasn’t the first Apple heard of this bug. There are reports that a 14-year-old and his mother had been trying in vain to warn Apple of this bug for more than a week but weren’t getting anywhere.

The Need for Beta Testing

Part of this could go back to this feature not being available in beta testing when iOS 12 was first being tested. In fact, it wasn’t even available with the public release of iOS 12.

This means, of course, that it wasn’t subject to a multitude of beta testers using it and searching for bugs. The ultimate release was much heralded, that Group FaceTime was finally being released, and all assumed that it was ready to be released.

Whether or not the Apple FaceTime bug should be subject to legal challenges depends on whether they were negligent. Not doing enough beta testing isn’t necessarily negligent, but if they ignored the pleas of the teen and his mother who were trying to report this, it is egregious, and anyone who has tried to contact Apple’s customer service by phone knows how it could have gone a week without anyone listening.

Should Apple be held to legal action because of the FaceTime bug? Let us know in the comments below what you think about this issue.

Image Credit: Apple and public domain

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.