Bug Stops Some iPhone Uses from Typing ‘I’

A bizarre predictive text error has left some iPhone users unable to type the word "I." Instead, every time they attempt to use the English first-person pronoun, it gets replaced by the letter A and an unprintable unicode character, typically rendered as a question mark in a box, but occasionally five horizontal bars instead.

The error first surfaced almost a week ago, as scattered reports of the problem hit social media and the specialist press. It appears to affect users of iOS 10 [pictured] and iOS 11, and has also been reported as happening to users of Apple's Mac computers too.

The bug seems to be related to Apple's cloud-based synchronization for predictive text -- a relatively recent feature that allows users' dictionaries to be shared using its iCloud service. When the phone learns a novel autocorrection, such as the name of a new contact, it will be shared with other devices owned by the same person.

Apple also uses machine learning to identify new words that are being used by its customers -- for example, the name "Harambe," which entered common usage after the shooting of a gorilla in Cincinnati Zoo -- and syncs those words to iOS and macOS devices.

As well as the autocorrect, a number of other related problems seem to be hitting iOS devices. Some users have reported that a lower-case "I" character is appearing in the emoji picker, while others are seeing the strange unicode character where a normal "I" is written.

According to MacRumors, Apple support staff offered a temporary workaround using the iOS text replacement settings to replace all uses of a capital I with a lowercase i. It may be grammatically incorrect, but at least it will be legible.

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