Apple: iPhone's Group FaceTime isn't working as it did before eavesdrop bug fix

Apple confirms that Group FaceTime 'add person' feature is hobbled after eavesdropping patch in iOS 12.1.4.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

There's a bug lingering in the Group FaceTime app in iOS 12.1.4, the update that patched an eavesdropping flaw that forced Apple to temporarily shut down the feature. 

Apple restored Group FaceTime for users who'd installed iOS 12.1.4 to patch the easily exploited eavesdropping bug. But some iPhone users on MacRumors forum have noticed that certain Group FaceTime features aren't working the way they used to. 

Specifically, if only two people are on a FaceTime call, it's not possible to add a third person to the call. In this case, the button to add a person to the call is grayed out.      

Apple Support has since confirmed the limitation, telling a user on Twitter that Group FaceTime needs to have at least three people on the FaceTime call to begin with to use the 'Add Person' button. 

It's not clear whether Apple is working on a fix. However, Apple has reportedly told a user that the 'Add Person' button isn't working properly. 

SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider's guide (free PDF)        

So, for now, Group FaceTime might not work for some users for a number of reasons. First, all users on a Group FaceTime call need to be on iOS 12.1.4. Secondly, the 'Add Person' feature is not working the way explained in a Group FaceTime support document Apple published at the time it released iOS 12.1.4.

Apple will likely release a fix for the latest Group FaceTime bug, but unlike the patch for the eavesdropping attack, it might not be rushed out and may be bundled with iOS 12.2, which is currently in beta. 

The eavesdropping bug allowed people on a Group FaceTime call to add a person and listen in on the recipient's phone even if the call was never answered. 

Apple faced criticism over the apparent slowness of its response to a bug report from the mother of a 14-year-old who was eventually rewarded for his discovery through Apple's normally invitation-only iOS bug bounty program.  

The company disabled the Group FaceTime feature after media reports about the issue surfaced at the end of January. 

US lawmakers are expecting Apple to provide answers today about its handling of the Group FaceTime bug report and its patch. 

Previous and related coverage

iPhone Facetime eavesdrop bug: Now lawmakers demand answers from Apple

Apple accused of not being transparent about its response to the Group FaceTime eavesdropping bug.

iPhone snooping: Apple cracks down on apps that secretly record taps, keystrokes

iOS app developers have been capturing how users interact with screens without gaining user consent.

iPhone FaceTime bug: Now Apple sued over eavesdrop on lawyer's client phone call

Apple sued over FaceTime eavesdropping bug and faces criticism for not responding to bug reports.

Apple apologizes for FaceTime eavesdropping bug, update coming next week

Group FaceTime calls are currently disabled for all users through the server, and a software update will arrive next week to completely fix the issue.

Apple FaceTime bug prompts investigation from NY attorney general CNET

The probe is focused on Apple's response to the eavesdropping vulnerability.

Severe vulnerability in Apple FaceTime found by Fortnite player

The teen's mother attempted to contact Apple with no success.

Apple disables Group FaceTime function that was allowing callers to listen and view without your consent

Apple iPhone users discovered a serious FaceTime bug that lets you hear audio from another iPhone or even view live video without the recipient's knowledge.

Apple gets egg all over its FaceTime

The bug that allows people to listen in to other people's phones and even see video hits Apple where it truly hurts -- in its protestations of privacy protection.

iOS 12.1.1 is now available, fixes an annoying FaceTime feature

The update includes bug fixes and FaceTime improvements.

How to disable FaceTime (so no one can eavesdrop on your iPhone or Mac) CNET

An Apple FaceTime bug can let callers hear and see you, even if you don't accept the call. Here's how to protect yourself until there's a permanent fix.

How Apple Group FaceTime could replace Google Hangouts Chat and Skype for Business TechRepublic

At WWDC, Apple announced a new feature for iOS 12 that will allow FaceTime to accommodate up to 32 people at once. This could make Apple a contender in the enterprise video conferencing realm.

Editorial standards