Remember getting Rickrolled? Talk about an annoying trend, but at least you could exit out of the 1980s hit single and resume normal activities (except for those dancing webpages on the desktop designed to dodge your exit attempts). Well, there's a new prank going around, one that can crash any iPhone handset in a not-so-obvious way.
The prank consists of a short video that, when watched, slows down and eventually freezes any iPhone model. It doesn't happen right away—a user may be able to swipe through screens, open a couple of apps, or check email before the performance degradation becomes obvious. But within about 10-20 seconds after watching the video, the iPhone concedes defeat. We tested this on an iPhone 5s and sure enough it worked.
What makes this prank so sinister is that some users may not even realize what happened. Since they can continue to use their handset for a brief period after watching the video, it's not obvious that the video was the actual culprit. They might chalk it up as a coincidence, though it certainly isn't one.
What seems to be at play here is a memory leak bug or some other flaw related to how iOS handles media files. Older iPhone models with less system resources appear to crash faster than newer iPhone handsets, though all of them eventually lock up.
The good news is the lockup is only temporary. Instead of being left with a bricked phone, affected users need only perform a hard reset. To do that on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, hold down the power and volume buttons until the Apple logo appears. On the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6S Plus, and below, hold down the power and home buttons for several seconds until the Apple logo appears.
If you own an iPhone, be wary of any links that head your head way, especially shortened ones through services like Google URL Shortener and Bitly. If you do accidentally click or otherwise find yourself on a page with a short video, hightail it out of there—the bug only takes effect if you push play.