Apple news: Company responds to 1970 date bug, to provide fix in next iOS update

by Herleen Sabillano |

(REUTERS/ADREES LATIF)A customer holds an iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus after the phones went on sale at the Fifth Avenue Apple store in Manhattan, New York September 19, 2014.

People have been changing the dates on their iPhones to Jan. 1, 1970 after a fake advertisement circulated on Facebook and Reddit. This resulted in users having a bricked phone or it being stuck in a boot loop. Complaints have been all over social media sites and AppleCare asking for a fix. This week, Apple acknowledged this "bug" and stated that the next iOS update will prevent this from happening.

"Manually changing the date to May 1970 or earlier can prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart," Apple said in a short post in its support page. "An upcoming software update will prevent this issue from affecting iOS devices." 

The bug, known as the "1970 date bug," happens when people change the dates on their phones. The fake advertisement was said to have been initially posted anonymously on a forum on 4Chan (an image board website), as reported by Business Insider

Apparently, this bug only appears on some of the Apple products, particularly those with 64-bit iOS such as the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and newer devices (iOS 8.x or iOS 9.x, including the latest iOS 9.2.1 release).

9to5Mac is offering a fix to the bug, but it requires some skills. For those who are desperate to bring their phones back, it will require them to remove and replace the battery of their devices. However, this is not recommended for those who don't have the right tools, skills and knowledge as it might mess up their phones even more.

Video maker and programmer Tom Scott posted a video on YouTube trying to analyze the reason for the bug, saying that one reason could be that it is an "integer underflow caused by the Unix epoch." He further explained that a part of the history of computers was the date Jan. 1, 1970. Experts assigned "0" to this date and marked its midnight as the starting point in determining the time that elapsed since then. It is still used up to now and setting the date before this would cause the device to crash, thus the bricked phone.

Apple, however, didn't specify when the next software update will be released.