A photographer who took a simple picture of Glacier National Park in Montana has unintentionally broken Android phones worldwide.
Gaurav Agrawal, a scientist and amateur photographer, took the picture in August 2019 and later uploaded it to the photo-sharing site, Flickr.
Android users – including those with Samsung and Google Pixel phones – started downloading it, but that’s when they ran into issues.
Apparently, multiple users who downloaded the Flickr image and tried to use the picture as a wallpaper found that it caused their Android phones to glitch.
A significant number of people claimed that their handsets would start switching on and off, in turn meaning their phone needed a factory reset, wiping their data in the process.
“I didn’t do anything intentionally. I’m sad that people ended up having issues,” Agrawal told the BBC.
“I didn’t know the format would do this. I have an iPhone, and my wallpaper is always a photo of my wife.”
Because of the reported issue, Agrawal’s Flickr post now contains a warning.
“Nothing is wrong with this photo but I gathered that it was exported from LR in ProPhotoRGB format which is not compatible with Android phones for some reason.”
So why did the glitch occur with Android phones?
Ken Munro and Dave Lodge from security firm, Pen Test Partners, have one hypothesis.
“As digital photographs have improved in quality, phones need to check what the image ‘color space’ is to work out how to display it properly,” they said in a statement.
“It’s how a phone knows how to display exactly the right shade of green, for example.
“It’s also possible to deliberately create images that have more color information than some devices can handle. What’s happened here is that the way some phones deal with these cases has gone wrong.
They continued: “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.”
After all the reported issues with the new iPhone, it makes a change to hear that users of Android phones experience issues, too.
The latest system version, iOS17, has also been problematic, with some users reporting their devices rebooting themselves at night, seemingly out of the blue.