A picturesque image of the sun setting over a quiet lake is making headlines across the world – and not for good reason. The image – taken by scientist and amateur photographer, Gaurav Agrawal – has been known to cause a glitch in a number of Android devices.
The BBC reports that Android users who set this image as their wallpaper have had to factory reset their devices as the smartphones would switch on and off repeatedly, resulting in the loss of all data that wasn’t previously backed up.
Agrawal says that he didn’t know the image would cause such damage and he’s “sad that people ended up having issues”. He recalls taking the picture on a “magical evening. It was gloomy and cloudy, and [my wife and I] thought there wasn’t going to be a great sunset. We were about to leave when things started to change.”
He then quickly grabbed his digital camera, snapped the shot and later used Lightroom to edit the image. When Agrawal choose one of the editing software’s three colour-modes to export the finished image – the bug popped in.
“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. It’s how a phone knows how to display exactly the right shade of green, for example,” says Ken Munro and Dave Lodge, partners at security firm Pen Test.
“There are different ways of defining the colour space. Some spaces have specialist uses in graphic design, so sometimes you’ll see images that aren’t in the usual ‘Standard RGB’ format. It’s also possible to deliberately create images that have more colour information than some devices can handle.”
Munro and Lodge conclude, “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”.
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