Adaptive Icons Bug Sends Phones Running Android Oreo Into Endless Boot Loops

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Nov 1, 2017
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Google’s latest Android version – Android 8.0 Oreo does not seem to get a breather from issues. Once again, a bug has brought the OS under the limelight for all the wrong reasons. This time around, a bug has plagued the “Adaptive Icons” feature on the OS, and it is setting the devices to go on endless boot loops. This has led many users to factory reset their devices.

The bug was found by Jcbsera, the developer behind the Swipe for Facebook Android app. It does not affect apps that do not use the adaptive icons feature. The adaptive icons feature introduced on Oreo allows icons to change size or shape according to the launcher used by the user or the device it is on. For example – adaptive icons will appear in shapes like square, rounded, or circle depending on the active theme or launcher on the device.

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The bug first came out in the open when the developer Jcbsera accidentally renamed the front image of his adaptive icon with the same name as this XML file – (ic_launcher_main.png and ic_launcher_main.xml). It’s worth noting that Jcbsera did not see the bug during the development of the app as he tested the version inside the Android emulator on the Android Studio application. So, it means that the bug comes into action on devices only, not on emulator.

Jcbsera discovered the bug after he received a slew of complaints on his app listing on the Play Store. In the bug report to Google, the developer wrote:

The two files with the same name created a circular reference, which Android Studio didn’t seem to pick up on.

What happened as a result was that SystemUI kept on crashing, as well as the phone’s launcher (Pixel Launcher, as well as other launchers that support Adaptive Icons), not letting people even get to their launcher – let alone go into Settings to uninstall my app, eventually leading the phone to restart and the same thing would happen over and over again, causing a bootloop.

Having the affected app/apps installed on your device is enough to trigger boot loop

He also clarified that users did not require to open the app, just having the app installed on the device is enough for triggering the boot loop. The issue also opened the bug for abuse by Android ransomware developers,“The only solution was to uninstall the app via adb (if you were lucky to get in there in time before the phone restarted AND also have USB debugging enabled), but eventually you would get prompted by Android to do a factory reset, which to the dismay several thousand users of my app – had to do,” Jcbsera said.

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Meanwhile, the developer listed a new version for his Swipe for Facebook app. The latest version is free from the bug and does not crash on devices running Oreo. Android Developers have assured a fix to arrive with the upcoming Android 8.1 release.

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