Photographer Behind Viral Phone-Breaking Wallpaper Speaks Out

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San Diego-based scientist Gaurav Agrawal has emerged as the photographer behind the image that caught headlines for crashing many Android phones recently. Agrawal revealed in a media interview that he took that image at St Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, back in August last year. Agrawal uploaded the image on Flickr without knowing the fact that it would once become viral — not just for any good reason but for randomly affecting a large number of smartphone users. Android devices from Google and Samsung were amongst the most impacted by the image that was used as a wallpaper by several users.

“I didn’t do anything intentionally,” Agrawal said in an interview with BBC. He called the time at which he took the image a “magical evening.”

The image was captured using a Nikon DSLR and uploaded on his Flickr profile on September 16, 2019. But before sharing publicly, Agrawal explained on Flickr that he used the image editing tool Adobe Lightroom through which he changed the format to ProPhotoRGB. This isn’t supported by some Android devices and, thus, resulted in issues with several phones.

“This photograph is in the news lately with Android phones crashing when setting this as a wallpaper,” Agrawal wrote in an updated description of the image in question.

Agrawal’s image was praised by Flickr users initially. But late last month, it became popular after a Twitter user – Ice Universe – warned people to not apply it as a wallpaper on their devices to avoid sudden crashes. Some users, however, did the opposite and reported the results on social media. Various Google and Samsung phone owners were amongst the most affected users. Nevertheless, the image didn’t cause any issues on iPhone models.

Notably, Agrawal wasn’t aware of the glitch until it came in the news last week. “I didn’t know the format would do this,” he told BBC. “I have an iPhone, and my wallpaper is always a photo of my wife.”

Having said that, he is set to switch to another format from now on to stop such issues for people in the future.


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