Last week, a strange bug was found on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It was discovered that setting the date on your iOS device to Jan. 1, 1970 and then rebooting the handset or tablet would effectively brick it. According to reports from 9to5Mac, AppleCare has “been flooded with people bringing in their devices after trying out this bug.” Apple has officially acknowledged the problem on the support website, saying that an upcoming software update will prevent the issue from affecting iOS devices in the future.
Apparently, the bug happens any time you set the date to May 1970 or earlier, but there’s no explanation given as to why that would cause such an extreme reaction on the part of your iOS device. Cupertino suggests that anybody affected by the problem should contact Apple Support for assistance. Some owners have been able to get full device replacements from the Genius Bar, since fixing the problem requires completely draining the battery, something that can take days or weeks to accomplish. According to 9to5Mac, however, other iPhone or iPad owners have been turned away and left to fend for themselves.
From what we’ve heard, this bug has caused quite a bit of hassle for Apple Store employees. Eager pranksters have been setting the date back on demonstration iPhones and iPads to break the devices. Some people just have more curiosity than common sense or courtesy, in this writer’s opinion.
Whether the fix will come embedded within iOS 9.3, which is expected to be released in March, is unclear. Apple may choose to release the fix in an incremental bug-fix release of iOS 9.2, instead. If the bug is causing as much trouble for Apple Store employees as I’ve heard, my guess would be that we’ll see iOS 9.2.2 within a few days to resolve the issue.