HomeKit bug sends iPhone and iPad into reboot loop of death

HomeKit bug can send iPhone into reboot loop of death. Here’s how to avoid it.

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Apple Home app
Beware random Home invitations.
Photo: Apple

A newly discovered HomeKit bug can render unsuspecting iPhone and iPad users with a completely unresponsive device. All it takes is for a smart home gadget to be given a super-long name.

Once the bug affects an iOS or iPadOS device, the gadget will continually freeze and restart itself. The only way to fix it is to factory reset the iPhone or iPad — and avoid logging into your iCloud account.

The HomeKit bug that kills your iPhone and iPad

It may seem like fun to accept a stranger’s invitation to their HomeKit network and mess with their smart devices. But there’s now a very compelling reason why you should avoid random invites at all costs.

Security researcher Trevor Spiniolas discovered a pretty major bug in Apple’s HomeKit API — the platform that allows iPhone, iPad and Mac to control smart home devices — that can all but kill an iOS device.

The bug causes an affected iPhone or iPad to freeze, then enter a reboot loop, when a HomeKit device is given an extremely long name with around 500,000 characters. Only performing a software reset will stop the reboot loop.

What’s more, since HomeKit devices sync to your iCloud account, signing in with the same details after restoring your device can cause the reboot loop to begin again.

 

It’s easy to avoid

Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to prevent this from happening to you. All you have to do is reject any random invitations to HomeKit networks you don’t recognize. You don’t need to avoid using HomeKit completely.

Spiniolas also recommends disabling “Show Home Controls” in Control Center if you’re running iOS 14 through iOS 15.2. (We wrote a guide on that if you want to know how.)

Spiniolas reported the bug to Apple. However, “despite them confirming the security issue and me urging them many times over the past four months to take the matter seriously, little was done,” Spiniolas said.