Why this image can crash your Android 10 smartphone

Android phone owners are reporting that a picture featuring a lake, a cloudy sunset and a green shoreline is crashing their phones when it is used as wallpaper.

And who knew setting your screen to this tranquil image could make your smartphone crash?

After setting the image in question as a wallpaper, users on social media have been reporting that their device immediately crashes. Even when users attempt to reboot, their screens constantly turn on and off, making it impossible to pass the security screen.

Samsung and Google’s Pixel are among the smartphone brands which seem to be affected.

Samsung is due to roll out a maintenance update on 11 June.

Latest version of Android 10 affected

It appears to affect some but not all devices running the latest version of the Android operating system Android 10

Tech journalist Bogdan Petrovan

Tech journalist Bogdan Petrovan at Android Authority said the bug did not affect his Huawei 20 Pro but it did cause a Google Pixel 2 to malfunction.

“After setting the image in question as a wallpaper, the phone immediately crashed. It attempted to reboot, but the screen would constantly turn on and off, making it impossible to pass the security screen. Restarting the device in safe mode by holding down the volume button during boot up did not fix the issue. It appears to affect some, but not all, devices running the latest version of the Android operating system Android 10,” said Petrovan.

Twitter users confirm the bug

A tweet on the issue has had thousands of likes and re-tweets with some users reporting that their phones had also been affected.

It looks like the issue first popped up sometime last month. Twitter user @universeice first posted about it on 31 May saying the photo was dangerous to Samsung phones.

WARNING!!!
Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially for Samsung mobile phone users!
It will cause your phone to crash!
Don’t try it!
If someone sends you this picture, please ignore it. pic.twitter.com/rVbozJdhkL

— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) May 31, 2020

Glitch may be linked to ‘colour space’

Ken Munro and Dave Lodge, two researchers at Pen Test Partners said: “As digital photographs have improved in quality, phones need to check what the image ‘colour space’ is to work out how to display it properly.”

This is so that the phone knows how to render, and hence display, exactly the right shade of green, for example, on the user’s screen.

“What’s happened here is that the way some phones deal with these cases has gone wrong. The phone crashes because it doesn’t know how to deal with it correctly, and the software developers probably hadn’t considered this might happen,” said Munro and Lodge.

Android 10 patch release urged

You need to be vigilant when downloading any new images for use as wallpaper on any recent Android phone.

The launch event for Android 11 was postponed. The good news is that the bug appears to be fixed in Android 11. Google however needs to release an Android 10 patch as soon as possible.

If you are unsure about a particular image file you can use a free online tool like Metadata2Go.com to check the metadata by looking at the profile description information.

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