iOS 9.3 bug turns links into iPhone crash bombs


Safari is constantly crashing for some iOS 9.3 users.
Safari is constantly crashing for some iOS 9.3 users.
Photo: Apple

Update: Apple has released iOS 9.3.1 to fix the iPhone web links problem.

If you have an iPhone running iOS 9.3, whatever you do, do not install the app.

iPhone users are reporting that an iOS 9.3 bug, possibly related to the app, causes some apps to freeze and crash when tapping on links — and it’s not entirely clear what’s causing it.

The annoying iOS 9.3 bug causes mobile browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome to choke on some web links. The bug affects devices that upgraded to iOS 9.3, which was released last week, despite the fact that Apple’s newest mobile operating system went through seven betas to fix glitches.

A common thread among users’ bug reports is that the app seems to trigger the glitch. Developer Sergey Roshchin has demonstrated the bug in a YouTube video, which you can see below.

In the video, Roshchin’s iPad works fine before he installs the app. After installing the travel app, Safari starts crashing every time a link is tapped. Other apps affected include Chrome, Mail, Messages and Notes.

No fix for mysterious iOS 9.3 bug

Rebooting an affected iPhone may temporarily fix the iOS 9.3 bug. Turning off JavaScript fixes Google search results. However, uninstalling the app doesn’t appear to fix the problem, so an update from Apple will be needed to restore order.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on how soon a fix might be released. So far, Apple Support on Twitter has been silent on the issue.

However, according to an Apple Support chat session reported by a frustrated iOS 9.3 user over the weekend, Cupertino’s engineers are well aware of the problem.

“Apple is working extremely hard to release an update to resolve this issue,” the customer support rep told the user. “I do not have any further information about when this update will be available. I can however state that this is Apple’s number 1 priority at this time.”

What exactly is causing the crashing isn’t known, though some developers have speculated it is related to universal links, a feature introduced in iOS 9 that lets web links bypass a mobile browser and send users directly into an app. It’s a handy tool for developers who want to funnel people into their apps, and generally makes things easier for users as well.

The current problem could have resulted from the extremely large list of domain names associated with the app, according to TechCrunch. The database had grown to 2.4MB, causing apps to crash when iOS checked links against the swollen universal link database. has since trimmed its association file down to 4KB, which should prevent new users who install the app from experiencing the same problems. Unfortunately, installing the new app (or deleting the old one) won’t fix your device if it’s already been affected by the iOS 9.3 bug.

  • Everything is working fine for me. No bugs no sh*t

    • BusterH

      do you have app installed?

      • No I don’t. Any other app ?

  • Jepz Lim

    I don’t think its the booking app. The problem is in the IOS software. In my IPHONE, using Safari or Chrome, when you do a google search and click-on the link nothing happens! When you directly type the website it works! I have discovered two way to access the liks- go to Images and click on the link or download and use PUFFIN browser. Have not experienced the same problem with my IPAD PRO. Hope Apple fixes the problem soon. :(

    • Richard Liu

      To make it simple: there is a hidden bug in iOS’s Shared Web Credentials mechanism and it will only be triggered after some 3rd party Apps is installed on that machine. These 3rd party Apps would insert a bunch of badly-formed data into iOS’s system database upon first launch, and these data would be the trigger to this bug. This is why some people getting affected by this bug while others don’t.

      The bad news is: if these “bad” data is already registered, it will not be purged automatically simply by uninstalling the apps and/or rebooting. Some sort of cache mechanism will keep it refresh as you anxiously trying to find a “fix”. And this is NOT an iOS 9.3 specified bug so downgrade to iOS 9.2x won’t help either.

  • thorh

    Is there a way to disable the universal links “feature”? I don’t always like being hijacked into an app, especially on my iPad.

  • I also face some bugs in my iphone device. Causes some apps to freeze and crash when tapping on links — and it’s not entirely clear what’s causing it.

  • djrobsd

    Since I updated to 9.3, most web links I open inside of Facebook load slowly or not at all. I have to actually click open in safari after opening the link to get it to load correctly. I don’t want any web site to force me to use an app! I am not going to install 5 million apps on my phone. It annoys me to no end whenever I go to a web site and it tries to take me to the App Store to download their app. Apps slow your phone down, make it take longer to backup and waste precious disk space on your phone. Frequently used apps like Facebook or Yelp are ok but I only make travel reservations a few times a year so I don’t need to have dedicated apps on my phone for them.