An image captured by a scientist has been breaking Android phones around the world, one year later after it was clicked. The beautiful image shot at St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana looks like any other beautiful picture until any Android 10-user sets it as wallpaper.
Gaurav Agrawal is a San-Diego based scientist. He captured a beautiful landscape in Montana on August 24, 2019, and uploaded it on the photo-sharing platform Flickr. So far so good.
Nearly one year later, authoritative media like the BBC reported that random people who have downloaded the image from Flickr and set it as a wallpaper on their Android phones are facing absurd issue on their devices.
Their phones would go off without any apparent reason, would randomly reboot, unless the user factory-resets the device. It means, all the data has to be wiped off to return the phone back to normal.
The issue came to light last week when someone on Twitter warned against using the seemingly harmless image as wallpaper. The tweet went viral and host of others joined their query as well.
Watch how some people tried it and ended up breaking their devices
Dude it just bricked my phone. I had to factory reset my s10. I thought it was a joke 😡— Matty G ⚡🌽 #satgang (@itsyaboymattyg) May 31, 2020
FU CK YOUU!!!! My S10+ broke how to undone 😭😭😭😭😭— syafiq (@_syafiq1997) May 31, 2020
Samsung S20 Ultra comfirmed! pic.twitter.com/saCpDIjQCN— Khalifa_BuHazza (@Khalifa_BuHazza) May 31, 2020
Welcome to iPhone world pic.twitter.com/GGZHToEfX5— ألان (@Thorn_77) June 4, 2020
Devices from brands like Samsung and Google’s own Pixel phones running Google Android 10 are reportedly affected. However, not all brands were affected, like Huawei did not cause an issue, according to Android Authority. WeTheWorld Magazine recommends not to try it out.
But Gaurav Agarwal did not do anything intentionally, he tells the BBC. “I’m sad that people ended up having issues,” he says. That day in August he went to the National Park with his wife to get the perfect shot. He says he even got one. Agarwal returned home and gave his image a quick edit on Adobe’s Lightroom, and this is where the bug reportedly crept in.
The whole issue was: before exporting an edited image on Lightroom, the software give three colour standards. What Agarwal selected tends to confuse some Android phones.
“I didn’t know the format would do this. I have an iPhone, and my wallpaper is always a photo of my wife,” an innocent Agarwal tells the BBC, having no idea about the gitch that does not affect Apple devices. He says he feels his image could have gone viral for all the good reasons “but maybe that’s for another time.”
Software is all about advanced perception and foresight. Machine intelligence cannot decide on its own unless coded. What happened with this image was a technical colour space standardization issue. In simple terms, your phone needs to know the colour space used (like Standard SRGB) to appropriately display the image. What colour space the image-in-question used (ProPhotoRGB format), does not bode well in the Android versions of some manufacturers, hence causing the devices to fail.
NOTE: the post has been updated with more information.
(Cover image courtesy of Gaurav Agrawal via Flickr)