A bug in Apple's Group FaceTime video-calling feature that raised a major privacy and security scare among users was first discovered by a 14-year-old schoolboy in Arizona, his mother has said. In a tweet, Michele G Thompson, a lawyer, said her son "can listen in to your iPhone/iPad without your approval."
She said she had submitted the bug report to the California-based company and was waiting for a reply.
"Scary stuff!" she tweeted.
"My son just found a major flaw in Apple's new iOS, that allows you to hear another person in the vicinity of their iPhone or iPad. I've verified it several times myself and was able to listen in on both of my kids, which can be done without their knowledge," Ms Thompson said in a Facebook post.
Apple has disabled the group calling function of FaceTime till it releases a software patch later this week. People on social media reported they were able to replicate the bug before the function was disabled.
"We're aware of this issue and have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week," an Apple spokesperson said, according to news agency Reuters.
Even Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter who has 4.13 million followers on his microblogging service, had a word of caution: "Disable FaceTime for now until Apple fixes."
The bug lets people hear and even see those they are reaching out to on iPhones even if the other person hasn't answered their phone. When a phone number is dialed on FaceTime, the caller can swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap an option to add a person, according to video demonstrations.
If the caller then enters their own number as that of the added caller, a group call begins even though the person being called hasn't even answered. The caller can then eavesdrop on the person being called, and in some demonstrations even watch them through the camera app. Declining a call breaks the connection.
Apple on Tuesday announced financial results for its fiscal 2019 first quarter ended December 29, 2018. It posted quarterly revenue of $84.3 billion, a decline of 5 per cent from the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter's revenue.
"While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter's results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
With inputs from agencies