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article imageApple rushes to patch Safari bug preventing people from searching

By James Walker     Jan 27, 2016 in Technology
Apple has acted quickly to fix a bug in its Safari web browser for iOS and Mac OS X that caused it to crash instantly every time a search was made from the web browser. Reports of the crashes were widespread earlier today.
9to5Mac reports that iPhone and Mac owners began to complain of the bug earlier today. Simply tapping or clicking Safari's address bar to type a search or address was enough to crash the browser completely, preventing people from using the Internet.
The bug appeared to be caused by a problem on Apple's servers, related to the Safari Suggestions feature. Whenever the address bar is used, Safari communicates with Apple to load top search suggestions, recently visited sites, favourites and additional data. An issue with the server meant an unexpected response was being returned to Safari which seemingly failed to handle the error elegantly and instead crashed entirely.
Crashing was observed on iOS 8, iOS 9 and Mac OS X 10.11 in countries around the world. As users flocked to social media to complain of the major bug, tips on how to remedy it began to circulate too. Disabling Safari Suggestions was found to halt the crashes, confirming the problem occurred on Apple's servers.
Apple has now indicated that the issue has been resolved and things should begin to return to normal. The patch has to be deployed to data centres around the world though, a process which may take some time.
The company has not provided an official comment on the outage. BuzzFeed reports that Apple sources say the issue only impacted people whose Safari Suggestions cache was updated during the early hours of the morning in Pacific Time. If this was the case, then Safari would crash immediately upon tapping the address bar, confirming the reports of users online.
iPhone and Mac owners were understandably frustrated at the loss of functionality. Safari is the preinstalled default browser on Apple products and is a popular choice, particularly on the iPhone. It is unusual for it to be affected by a bug so crippling as this one which prevented users from navigating the Internet in a normal manner.
Users who continue to experience issues with Safari are advised to clear the web browser's cache. This can be done via settings using the "Clear history and website data" button. Once the cache has been cleared, Safari will be forced to load the updated set of Safari Suggestions, this time without the fatal bug.
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