A Mysterious Wallpaper Which Can Cause Some Android Phones To Crash

A wallpaper which showed a beautiful lake view has recently become a hot topic for android phone users especially Samsung android phones. Because the lake wallpaper with a background of mountains and orange sky is able to make Android phones crash and soft brick. Soft brick itself is an Android term where the smartphone fails to boot, but can still be fixed. While it isn’t technically dead, the phone will endlessly boot-loop.

It looks like the issue first popped up sometime last month. Twitter user @universeice first posted about it on May 31, saying the photo was dangerous to Samsung phones and "will cause your phone to crash."

Image Source: https://twitter.com/UniverseIce/status/1266943909499826176/photo/1


On affected phones, setting the photo as your wallpaper causes an android phone screen to immediately start turning on and off, making it unusable. Rebooting a phone won’t fix the issue. 9to5Google reports that you can restart your phone into safe mode and delete the image file as a potential fix, but Android Authority says it eventually had to factory reset its device to get things back to normal. Suffice it to say, you definitely shouldn’t try replicating this issue on any of your important devices. 

As the picture started making the rounds on the Internet, San Diego-based scientist and amateur photographer, Gaurav Agrawal reached out to BBC. In an interview, he revealed that he had captured the picture at the St Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana in 2019 during a trip with his wife. Agrawal said he took the picture with his Nikon camera and later uploaded it on Flickr after editing it on software called Lightroom. Tech reporters and bug specialists revealed that it was due to ‘colour space’ that phones were crashing. As per the findings, Lightroom gives a limited number of colour-mode options for exporting the finished result. And the one Agrawal chose for his picture, did not seem to sit well with most Android 10 and Google pixel phones as they did not know how to display the colours properly. Reacting to the glitch, he told BBC, “I hoped my photograph would have gone ‘viral’ for a good reason, but maybe that’s for another time.”

According to developer Davide Bianco, the problem is caused by a lack of support for non-sRGB images in the Android System UI itself. This is why you can view the image just fine in-browser, but setting it as a wallpaper will temporarily brick your phone. When System UI attempts to map color values, the values in the image above exceed the array size and crash the phone.

In theory, these sorts of images can be used as a booby-trap. Send someone a gorgeous wallpaper, they install it, and boom — their device is now boot-looped. Android 11 will fix the problem by supporting non-SRGB wallpapers without this kind of problem.

Weirdly, not all Android device is vulnerable to this problem. The bug does not appear to be universal; Android Authority says it initially tried to verify the bug on a Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but found that the Huawei phone does not appear be affected.

Other android users, tries to apply the wallpaper on 3 different phones. While his Oppo and Xiaomi phones does not to be affected, however when he tries to apply it to Samsung phones, it turns out that his Samsung mobile phone failed, can't access the homescreen and automatically entered recovery mode.

A Google rep named Romain Guy commented on Twitter about the issue, saying that "the real problem is the way luminance is computed." Google and Samsung are both actively working on a fix for the issue. It's not clear when this fix will roll out, but it's likely to be with the next security release in July 2020.

Sources:

  • https://jateng.tribunnews.com/2020/06/06/waspada-pengguna-android-jangan-gunakan-gambar-ini-untuk-wallpaper?page=all
  • https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a32757062/android-wallpaper-crash/
  • https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-globally/sunset-wallpaper-android-phones-crash-phone-virus-6456923/
  • https://www.androidcentral.com/cursed-wallpaper-could-crash-your-phone-its-color-profile
  • https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/311377-using-the-wrong-wallpaper-can-crash-an-android-phone
  • https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/1/21276658/android-phone-wallpaper-bug-crash-rgb-srgb-samsung-pixel

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