Web link bug in iOS 9.3 causes apps to crash, freeze

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2016
In what appears to be yet another bug in Apple's latest iOS point release, users running iOS 9.3 are reporting system stability issues when attempting to open hyperlinks in Safari, Mail, and Messages, as well as third party Web browsers like Google Chrome.




It is not clear what iOS mechanic is promoting the software breakdown, though problems seem to have cropped up on Saturday as multiple users took to Apple's Support Communities forums for help. AppleInsider on Sunday received a number of similar reports from device owners running both iOS 9.3 and, to a lesser extent, iOS 9.2.

As described by those affected, tapping on Web links in Mail, Messages, Safari and other Apple titles causes those app to freeze or crash. The issue appears to be app agnostic, as a both first and third party software exhibits crash symptoms, suggesting the issue lies in iOS itself.

While newer hardware like iPhone 6, 6s and current generation iPad models appear most impacted, scattered reports claim older devices are experiencing the same hangups. An exact distribution of affected devices and iOS versions is not known, though Apple's support forums now contain multiple threads on the topic, one with more than 7,000 views.

A permanent fix has not yet been discovered, though some have found limited success in disabling JavaScript (accessible in Settings > Safari > Advanced). Others say performing a long press operation on a link in Chrome bypasses the bug, but the solution is hit-or-miss.

One forum member said an Apple Support representative this weekend confirmed the company is aware of the issue and has engineers working on a fix, which should be released soon. Apple has not made an official statement on the matter.

The link crash bug comes less than a week after complaints surfaced regarding an iOS 9.3 update issue that prohibited older iPhones and iPads from completing the activation process, rendering those devices unusable. Apple temporarily pulled the software before issuing a patched version on Thursday.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    Safari seems to have problems with some websites that heavily use javascript even before iOS 9.3 where it freezes or becomes intolerably slow and jerky when trying to scroll down the page of the site. The only way I can reasonably view such sites is to disable javascript entirely.
  • Reply 2 of 55
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    The YouTube app completely froze on my iPad Pro yesterday.
    Just sayin'.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    I'm seeing this in a big way on my iPhone 6, which just froze when I clicked on the comment link for this sorry.  Regular links seem to work OK, but anything where the web pages get cute with Javascript freezes Safari.

    Edit: Turning off Javascript "fixes" the freezes, but web pages that rely on Javascript to evaluate the link clicked (cough, cough, like this one, cough) don't work.

    I really can't believe Craig and Eddy don't realize how shitty software from Apple has become.  They must live in a vacuum.  I'm seriously embarrassed for Apple.
    edited March 2016 napoleon_phoneapartanantksundaramnetmage
  • Reply 4 of 55
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    In what appears to be yet another bug in Apple's latest iOS point release, users running iOS 9.3 are reporting system stability issues when attempting to open hyperlinks in Safari, Mail, and Messages, as well as third party Web browsers like Google Chrome.




    It is not clear what iOS mechanic is promoting the software breakdown, though problems seem to have cropped up on Saturday as multiple users took to Apple's Support Communities forums for help. AppleInsider on Sunday received a number of similar reports from device owners running both iOS 9.3 and, to a lesser extent, iOS 9.2.

    As described by those affected, tapping on Web links in Mail, Messages, Safari and other Apple titles causes those app to freeze or crash. The issue appears to be app agnostic, as a both first and third party software exhibits crash symptoms, suggesting the issue lies in iOS itself.

    While newer hardware like iPhone 6, 6s and current generation iPad models appear most impacted, scattered reports claim older devices are experiencing the same hangups. An exact distribution of affected devices and iOS versions is not known, though Apple's support forums now contain multiple threads on the topic, one with more than 7,000 views.

    A permanent fix has not yet been discovered, though some have found limited success in disabling JavaScript (accessible in Settings > Safari > Advanced). Others say performing a long press operation on a link in Chrome bypasses the bug, but the solution is hit-or-miss.

    One forum member said an Apple Support representative this weekend confirmed the company is aware of the issue and has engineers working on a fix, which should be released soon. Apple has not made an official statement on the matter.

    The link crash bug comes less than a week after complaints surfaced regarding an iOS 9.3 update issue that prohibited older iPhones and iPads from completing the activation process, rendering those devices unusable. Apple temporarily pulled the software before issuing a patched version on Thursday.
    Kinda weird since IOS 9.3 has been in beta, even public beta, for a long time. How could something like that not even be reported. Complete mystery that goes beyond just QA.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 55
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    john.b said:
    I'm seeing this in a big way on my iPhone 6, which just froze when I clicked on the comment link for this sorry.  Regular links seem to work OK, but anything where the web pages get cute with Javascript freezes Safari.

    Edit: Turning off Javascript "fixes" the freezes, but web pages that rely on Javascript to evaluate the link clicked (cough, cough, like this one, cough) don't work.

    I really can't believe Craig and Eddy don't realize how shitty software from Apple has become.  They must live in a vacuum.  I'm seriously embarrassed for Apple.
    This wasn't even reported in Beta, or the public Beta, which makes this bug pretty weird since it's easy for some people to get it.
    BTW, it doesn't seam to be happening on my Ipad 2 and on the Ipad Air 2 (both been upgraded nearly a whole week), so it's probably a device dependent race condition on most recent Iphones in the webkit.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 6 of 55
    birkobirko Posts: 60member
    Safari seems to have problems with some websites that heavily use javascript even before iOS 9.3 where it freezes or becomes intolerably slow and jerky when trying to scroll down the page of the site. The only way I can reasonably view such sites is to disable javascript entirely.
    With more and more websites becoming more and more dependent on JavaScript this needs fixing. JS is becoming very powerful and is being rapidly adopted as templates, frameworks, CMSs etc.

    Soon disabling JS won't help as many important sites will assemble their content client-side.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    RameRame Posts: 1member
    We have 4 iPhones & 1 iPad in the house and only the iPad has this problem. All have iSO 9.2.1
  • Reply 8 of 55
    saltyzipsaltyzip Posts: 193member
    This is Apples fragmentation problem, even though most devices run the same version #, under the covers there isnt feature parity. This is only going to get worse as each new device arrives. Apples perceived software update dominance might actually start holding it back, due to complexity in managing a codeset across an ever increasing number of sku's.
  • Reply 9 of 55
    gobotgobot Posts: 1member
    guys it's not due to iOS 9.3 !
    I have an iPhone 6 , and this crap started happening to me more than one week ago, about on March 17th.
    I was on iOS 9.2.1 !

    Of course I'm now on 9.3 and it's still here, not gone. I think is related to some third party app.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 10 of 55
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 82member
    It's been tracked down to Booking.com's app is a major cause of the issue. I have confirmed it happens a few minutes after installing their iOS app.

    It's due to how Booking.com has set up Universal Links incorrectly with a huge number of URLs on their website. iOS loads the associated huge Universal Links list from Booking.com's website when the iOS app is installed.

    I was later able to restore links by deleting Booking.com, rebooting, redownloading Booking.com, immediately enabling Airport mode, opening Booking.com, rebooting iOS, uninstalling Booking.com, disabling airport mode, and finally long presses on links in Safari worked again. 

    This fixed worked for me and one other, but not for other people.

    I don't think it's new to iOS 9.3, it may just be Booking.com updated their file recently.

    More information is in these Twitter threads:




    Other apps may cause the issue but it's 100% reproducible with Booking.com
  • Reply 11 of 55
    foxdogfoxdog Posts: 1member
    Update issues are happening to regularly Apple might take more care and get things right if their stores were filled with unhappy customers rather than shoppers
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 12 of 55
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,398member
    I really think that Apple needs to get off their high horse and beef up their feedback system. I've reported many issues over the years, and not once has anybody ever responded to me. It feels like I'm sending my feedback into a black hole, and that's not good enough.
    anantksundaramnetmage
  • Reply 13 of 55
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 82member
    To be more specific, the issue is that the daemon responsible for handling Universal Links, swcd, is crashing in a repeated loop as it processes the huge booking.com apple-app-site-association file.

    When it crashes, it kills the link handling mechanisms in iOS.
    netmage
  • Reply 14 of 55
    john.b said:
    I'm seeing this in a big way on my iPhone 6, which just froze when I clicked on the comment link for this sorry.  Regular links seem to work OK, but anything where the web pages get cute with Javascript freezes Safari.

    Edit: Turning off Javascript "fixes" the freezes, but web pages that rely on Javascript to evaluate the link clicked (cough, cough, like this one, cough) don't work.

    I really can't believe Craig and Eddy don't realize how shitty software from Apple has become.  They must live in a vacuum.  I'm seriously embarrassed for Apple.
    Thank for sharing. I tried to find a way to replicate this bug since the story's out. Somehow I'm still not able to replicate it. Clicking on the comment of this story doesn't make my iPhone or iPad hanged. ???
  • Reply 15 of 55
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 82member
    Booking.com seems to have fixed their Universal Links file, so this bug shouldn't occur for any new users.
    netmagepscooter63
  • Reply 16 of 55
    Rosyna said:
    To be more specific, the issue is that the daemon responsible for handling Universal Links, swcd, is crashing in a repeated loop as it processes the huge booking.com apple-app-site-association file.

    When it crashes, it kills the link handling mechanisms in iOS.


    Unfortunately, your steps didn't have any effect on the problem for me.

    iPhone 6, OS 9.2.1.  Behaviour just started happening this past Friday.

  • Reply 17 of 55
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 82member
    Rosyna said:
    To be more specific, the issue is that the daemon responsible for handling Universal Links, swcd, is crashing in a repeated loop as it processes the huge booking.com apple-app-site-association file.

    When it crashes, it kills the link handling mechanisms in iOS.


    Unfortunately, your steps didn't have any effect on the problem for me.

    iPhone 6, OS 9.2.1.  Behaviour just started happening this past Friday.

    Yeah, the workaround I proposed is a race between swcd crashing and the uninstall proccess. But Booking.com fixed the issue just now on their end. Not sure if existing users get the fix if they reinstall booking.com's app or not.

    But new users won't be affected, at least.
  • Reply 18 of 55
    Only one question that I wanted to ask for long time. Been Apple system user since Jaguar. At what point the QA team at Apple became so poor at testing? I know that 7 years ago support moved to different country and was not trained in proper level of curtesy initally (so Canadian support was helping me in the USA), but I bet that was fixed. Now QA these days at Apple. And it is not just about mobile devices. It is about mentality.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    If even 1000 people have this problem, out of a user base of 1,000,000,000, it comes to 1 out of 1 million. It seems that the problem might not even be attributable to Apple. Enjoy your ranting.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 82member
    If even 1000 people have this problem, out of a user base of 1,000,000,000, it comes to 1 out of 1 million. It seems that the problem might not even be attributable to Apple. Enjoy your ranting.
    Even though the issue was caused by a third party, it's still a bug in iOS (although it predates iOS 9.3). Not only is it a bug, it's a security bug. Third party apps should not be able to bring iOS to its knees like this.
    netmage
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