This Innocent, Scenic Photo Has the Power to Crash Android Smartphones

Wallpaper Crashes Androids Credit: Gaurav Agrawal
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Amateur photographer Gaurav Agrawal just wanted to share a stunning sunset photo he captured during a trip to Glacier National Park. His picture was so beautiful that many people downloaded it and installed it as their wallpaper.

But, that simple act had dire consequences for Google Pixel and Samsung smartphone owners.

As soon as the wallpaper was in place, these phones crashed and burned.

According to Gizmodo, the image primarily affected Android 10 phones, especially Google Pixel phones and smartphones from Samsung.

Loading the photo as wallpaper would cause a continuous boot loop that could only be stopped by a full factory reset.

The issue lies in the color space used by the image, says XDA Developers.

Agrawal edited his image using Lightroom and exported it with an extra-wide HDR color space. Agrawal didn’t give the image a second thought as it looked fine on his computer and Flickr.

As soon as Android owners started downloading it, the issue reared its ugly head. Unbeknownst to Agarwal, this large color space causes Android 10 phones to crash because the phone’s color rendering engine can’t handle it.

“I hoped my photography would have gone ‘viral’ for a good reason, but maybe that’s for another time.”

Gaurav Agrawal

Speaking to the BBC, photographer Agrawal said he ha no idea this color space would cause so many problems for people.

He never used it as a wallpaper on his iPhone, so he never experienced the issue. Agrawal did confirm that he was “going to use another format from now on.”

Now that this problem has been identified, software to patch it has been submitted to the Android Open Source Project.

Users also confirmed that Android 11 Developer Preview is immune to this issue because Google has changed how the operating system handles unsupported color spaces.

Still in beta, Android 11 will become available later this year.

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