Origin of Apple's 'A ?' QuickType bug a mystery, but notoriety grows with spread of memes,...

Posted:
in iOS edited November 2017
An iOS QuickType and autocorrect bug replacing the letter "i" with the letter A and a strange character has seemingly spread, despite the fact that no software updates have arrived. Its persistence raises questions as to what exactly is causing the autocorrect issue to proliferate -- and is also drawing jokes on social media.

Until Apple fixes this phone issue Me guess Me will talk like this.

-- Jay-D (@_ItsJust_JORDAN)


The bug, while an annoyance, is obviously not a major concern for most users, who are making light of the situation on Twitter, Facebook and through memes.




The @AppleSupport account on Twitter has been on top of the issue, responding to countless complaints and letting users know that a fix is on the way. In fact, the latest beta of iOS 11.2 addresses the problem, though it is unclear when the final update will arrive for members of the public.

fixed it pic.twitter.com/r3ljETuugg

-- Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge)
Oddly, the bug goes back to earlier builds of iOS 11, but also went unnoticed or unexperienced by many for some time. Over time, anecdotal experience suggest it seems to have spread, though there are no clear answers as to how or why.

One potential theory is that Apple's intelligent QuickType algorithm reads the previously received message in apps like Message for contextual awareness. For example, if the last message you received from a friend was "Haha," QuickType will read that and potentially suggest options like "LOL" or a laughing emoji.

Me checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if @Apple has fixed the A [?] bug. pic.twitter.com/VCwuekNiDD

-- David (@PeoriaDavid)
Some have suggested the "i" bug could somehow proliferate in this manner. However, Apple has declined to comment on what exactly is causing the bug, or any potential spread of it.

The issue first began gaining mainstream attention last week, despite the fact that iOS 11 has been out since mid-September. Making the issue even more strange, not all running iOS 11 are affected by the bug, while it also affects some builds of macOS.

In place of the letter i, QuickType and autocorrect generate a symbol that is a combination of the unicode symbol 0049 for the capital letter "i" as well as symbol FE0F which is called "variation selector-16."

Variation selectors are used to specify a specific variant for a Unicode character, such as the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Taiwanese form of a particular glyph.

The end result is a capital letter A with some sort of symbol next to it, whether it is a question mark in a box, or a series of lines, or something else.




Until Apple's official fix arrives, the company has offered a temporary solution, using the iOS Text Replacement feature as an interim workaround.

On an affected device, users can open the Settings app, then go to General, then Keyboard, then Text Replacement. Tap the plus symbol and enter an uppercase "I" in the Phrase field, with a lowercase "i" in the Shortcut section, then save.

Aside from Apple's own workaround, users can also avoid the issue by turning off predictive text. Though some users have suggested a phone restore could clean up whatever is causing the issue to occur, the Apple Community Support Forums advise this isn't likely to permanently fix it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    I I I I 
    Yup, doesn't happen in iOS 10.3.3.  ;)
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 18
    You can also reset the keyboard dictionary under settings/general/reset and that fixes the problem. For now. I think (it DOES work). 
  • Reply 3 of 18
    robjnrobjn Posts: 181member
    I’m not seeing this.

    I always manually toggle to capital letters before writing the word “I”. (Rather than typing a lowercase “i” and letting it autocorrect)

    Therefore, I don’t think my phone ever has the opportunity to learn this autocorrect based bug.

    This might help explain why some people are seeing it and others are not.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    I can't figure out how to reproduce it in iOS 11.0.3, but the fact a variation selector is involved would suggest the bug has something to do with coding for the emoji variants that were recently introduced. Shouldn't be hard to find or to fix.

    My knowledge is a little out of date, but as of a few years ago, Japanese was the only language for which a set of Unicode variation selectors had been defined for alternate kanji (characters) in fonts, and their use hadn't really caught on. So it's far more likely this is a result of emoji coding, which also uses the variation selectors.
    edited November 2017
  • Reply 5 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,242member
    The amount of negative coverage that Apple is receiving for this largely cosmetic bug is amazing. Every major TV network reported on this story as a headline news item with lead-ins. The WPA2 bug didn’t receive nearly the attention this one has received. I know we’re all homers when it comes to Apple, but it does seem like network media is like a scrum of sharks with blood in the water over anything negative about Apple. Heck, on the day of the iPhone X release NBC Nightly News had several lead-ins hinting at a big story about the amazing demand for the iPhone X. However, when the segment about the iPhone X arrived, the ONLY thing they talked about was the UPS truck that was robbed of 300+ iPhone X units. I guess people camping out, long lines, and a flood of orders aren’t enough to whet the blood lust of those who report on Apple. They need dirt, and with the iBug text replacement issue they’ve found something sufficiently dirty to lean on. 

    I’m still waiting to see the iBug on one of my devices. So far, nowhere to be found.
    edited November 2017 StrangeDayshike1272pscooter63patchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Will need to schedule time to attend a class at an Apple Store on how to type around this bug.  /s
    edited November 2017 tallest skilhike1272
  • Reply 7 of 18
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    iGate.

    Not happening on my SE. haven’t seen it.  
    hike1272pscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 18
    The fact that this minor issue is getting this level of attention just points to the lack of an "Antenna-gate" issue with the iPhone 8 or iPhone X.
    The typical media storyline for iPhone is:

    Media iPhone Launch Calendar:
    T-minus 1 Year :
    "Projected new iPhone features stories"
    T-minus 9 months : "Production issues"
    T-minus 6 months : "Detailed drawing and mockups of new iPhone"
    T-minus 3 months : "Pricing woes, why Steve Jobs would hate this, detailed options (colors, configuration) and competitive threats"
    T-minus 1 month : "Samsung and other Android new flagships comparisons with unreleased iPhone: features, pricing and performance, etc."
    iPhone introduction & launch : "Exceptionally Low or Exceptionally High demand stories." Often based outdated metrics like lines at Apple stores.
    T-plus 1 month : "Antenna-gate based stories"

    Filler stories at anytime in the year: Why Apple has peaked, Death of Apple, Apple is not innovating, etc.


    StrangeDayshike1272manfred zornjony0repressthis
  • Reply 9 of 18
    hah, that is spot on
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 18
    I would expect that you get "10" when typing a X. ;-)
    tallest skilmanfred zornjony0
  • Reply 11 of 18
    An iOS QuickType and autocorrect bug replacing the letter "i" with the letter A and a strange character has seemingly spread, despite the fact that no software updates have arrived.
    I’m bothered by how something like this can happen and also bothered by Apple’s policing of our speech. If I have a suicidal friend and I want to tell him not to kill himself, I don’t want my fucking iPad to send out “None of your problems will be solved if you kill you’re selves” because the goddamn thing sees “kill yourself” typed correctly and CHANGES it to something else. You can’t fix this, by the way, just like you can’t ever teach the iOS dictionary to learn vulgarity.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to the fix for this in A [?]OS 10.11.2.  ;)
    edited November 2017
  • Reply 12 of 18
    macguimacgui Posts: 706member
    dewme said:
    The amount of negative coverage that Apple is receiving for this largely cosmetic bug is amazing.
    I'd be amazed, but the reaction is so predictable and even historic, that it's just a meh reaction now. 'Apple' and some less than perfect situation garners more clicks and mentions than just about any other 'news' story except for genuine tragedies. Just business as usual.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 13 of 18
    tallest skil said:

    I’m bothered by how something like this can happen and also bothered by Apple’s policing of our speech. If I have a suicidal friend and I want to tell him not to kill himself, I don’t want my fucking iPad to send out “None of your problems will be solved if you kill you’re selves” because the goddamn thing sees “kill yourself” typed correctly and CHANGES it to something else. You can’t fix this, by the way, just like you can’t ever teach the iOS dictionary to learn vulgarity.
    Policing your speech by making spelling suggestions that you can see and override at any time?

    I can understand where in that situation you would be a bit panicky and might miss the correction in progress but that's still a very Hyperbolic over-statement.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    netroxnetrox Posts: 551member
    It's odd because I don't have that bug on all my Apple devices despite being updated to the latest. Weird.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    I've just updated to iOS 11.1.1 that Apple just released. Goodbye missing I.

  • Reply 16 of 18
     There is a slightly different and possibly related bug in iMessage.

    Write a sentence with – – for emphasis – –  anywhere in the sentence.

     iMessage will truncate everything after the first – –.

    Everything after that literally gets dropped from the iMessage  as if you never typed it.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Is it because Apple is trying to fulfill diversity quotas instead of hiring the best people for the job (regardless of their genetics) and therefore quality control has now been turned into a bureaucracy of gender and racial identity politics instead of what it should be: quality?
    edited November 2017 tallest skil
  • Reply 18 of 18
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,355member
    tyler82 said:
    Is it because Apple is trying to fulfill diversity quotas instead of hiring the best people for the job (regardless of their genetics) and therefore quality control has now been turned into a bureaucracy of gender and racial identity politics instead of what it should be: quality?
    You must be the guy they fired...
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