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Apple Disables Walkie-Talkie App Over Privacy Concerns

Apple has disabled a popular comms app on its watchOS after concerns were raised over users being able to eavesdrop on each other.

Available on the Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 5, the Walkie-Talkie app allows users “to get in touch with just one tap,” according to Apple.

However, the tech giant has been forced to switch the function off while it “quickly” fixes an emerging vulnerability.

“Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously,” it said in a statement. “We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.”

The function will be restored “as soon as possible,” Apple continued.

The news comes just a day after Cupertino issued a silent update for its Mac app to fix a widely reported privacy issue in conferencing service Zoom.

The vulnerability meant that any website could automatically open up a conference call on a user’s machine, switching on the webcam in the process. Even if users deleted their Zoom app, the service would keep a localhost web server running covertly on their Mac, so that if a link is clicked, the client would restart again without any user interaction.

Although Zoom finally patched the issue this week after dragging its heels for months, removing the localhost server, Apple seems to have been concerned that a large number of users may not apply the patch – potentially because they thought they’d already uninstalled Zoom.

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