Apple’s new Display screen Time Communication Limits are simply crushed with a bug

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Enlarge / iOS 13 on an iPhone 11 Pro.

Samuel Axon

A bug in iOS 13.3 allows children to easily circumvent the restrictions that their parents or guardians have set with the "Communication Limit" feature in screen time. Apple has announced that it will fix the problem in a future software update.

With the iOS 13.3 update released earlier this week, parents can whitelist contacts that their children can communicate with. Children must enter a passcode from parents to speak to people who are not on the list, except for emergency services like 911. This was the flagship of the update.

CNBC released a report yesterday describing a bug that allowed children to easily circumvent the restrictions. It turns out that for contacts that aren't set to sync with iCloud by default, text or calls from unknown numbers have subordinate people the option to add the number as a new contact. Once this step is done, they can communicate freely with the contact.

Children with access to an Apple Watch can ask Siri on the watch to send an SMS or call a number on the paired iPhone, regardless of whether the number is whitelisted or not. CNBC notes that this won't work if Downtime, another parental control feature, is enabled.

Apple offered CNBC the following statement as news of the spread of the problem:

This problem only occurs on devices that are set up with a non-standard configuration, and a workaround is available. We are working on a complete fix and will publish it in an upcoming software update.

Apple has seen a general market entry with iOS 13 and its numerous subsequent minor updates, so the company plans to change the internal testing and innovations of software to avoid future problems. In our previous report, it was noted that Apple-related sources said the company has been more satisfied with its software since iOS 13.2 was released. However, IOS 13.2 had a widespread memory issue affecting background apps, and iOS 13.3 now has this new ScreenTime issue, meaning that the last two feature updates each had a major bug.

Apple has released more troubleshooting updates than usual after an annual update since iOS 13 was launched.

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