Apple ‘fixes’ Group FaceTime bug by hobbling the app

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Apple took the easy way of removing a problem in FaceTime: it yanked out the affected feature.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s hasty fix for the serious Group FaceTime bug that was discovered last month apparently just disables the feature in this video-chatting software that was causing the problem.

We’ve reached out to Apple to see if they’re in the process of restoring full functionality.

Bug background

Last month, a teen discovered that it was possible for a FaceTime caller to listen to the person on the other end of the call  — and even see them — before they picked up.

The process required calling someone, then manually adding yourself to the call. That started the call between yourself and yourself, with audio and video from the person you originally called already playing even though that person had yet to answer.

The Group FaceTime fix is in… sort of

Apple introduced iOS 12.1.4 to remove this significant problem. But users have noticed that after installing this a feature is missing: they can’t add additional users to a regular FaceTime call.  In other words, it’s not possible to make a standard FaceTime person-to-person call into a Group FaceTime call.

Apple is aware of the limitation and its support staff is notifying users who ask about it. A post on Twitter from Apple Support says “Note that Group FaceTime calls need to be started with at least two additional users in the FaceTime app.”

While it’s possible that a fix is in development, it isn’t included in the most recent beta of iOS 12.2, which was released early this month. As discussed, we’ve reached out to Apple for a progress report but haven’t yet heard back from the company.