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Bug Cellphones Handhelds

Bug In Samsung S3 Grabs Too Many Images, Ups Data Use 99

Posted by timothy
from the my-t-shirt-size-is-sx-s-m-l-xl-and-xxxxl-simultaneously dept.
First time accepted submitter Emmanuel Cecchet writes "Researchers of the BenchLab project at UMass Amherst have discovered a bug in the browser of the Samsung S3. If you browse a Web page that has multiple versions of the same image (for mobile, tablet, desktop, etc...) like most Wikipedia pages for example, instead of downloading one image at the right resolution, the phone will download all versions of it. A page that should be less than 100K becomes multiple MB! It looks like a bug in the implementation of the srcset HTML tag, but all the details are in the paper to be presented at the IWQoS conference next week. So far Samsung didn't acknowledge the problem though it seems to affect all S3 phones. You'd better have an unlimited data plan if you browse Wikipedia on an S3!"
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Bug In Samsung S3 Grabs Too Many Images, Ups Data Use

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  • by TheSimkin (639033) on Friday May 31, 2013 @08:20PM (#43880045)
    If this was really a problem it would have been noticed a long time ago.
    • by tuppe666 (904118) on Friday May 31, 2013 @08:51PM (#43880251)

      If this was really a problem it would have been noticed a long time ago.

      The summery overstates what is going on, it implies that using a surfing on a S3 Phone will cause you to burn several times the magnitude of bandwidth it should, its subterfuge.

      Its simply a bug in the stock web browser that does not break page views. that systematically downloads all images in a srcset instead of picking only the one it needs. An example "" if its not used...it does not happen.

      Why is it not being discovered is that it does not make enough of an impact in common usage. I suspect additionally if your have a carrier like mine they simply serve a compressed version of the original image anyway, or S3 users are now using like me Chrome. Popular alternatives like the offer the same functionality.

      The bottom line is Browser have bugs. That is not news, this is neither a critical, or even as stated a bandwidth hog.

      • by X3J11 (791922)

        ... or S3 users are now using like me Chrome.

        Yep, but I'm alright with that since I am really not a fan of the stock browser on the S3, anyway.

      • by Teun (17872)

        hey simply serve a compressed version of the original image anyway,

        You might want to look at the technique of compressing jpg's...

        • by Sneftel (15416)

          Hmm? That's trivial. You just throw away the higher-frequency cosine coefficients.

          • by Teun (17872)
            It's already done while making the original jpg's, there's nothing gained by recrompressing them.
            • It's already done while making the original jpg's, there's nothing gained by recrompressing them.

              When making a jpeg you can decide how much of the high frequency information to throw away. Some mobile networks are quite prepared to throw away more of it than the original site author did to save bandwidth.

              There are also in many cases ways to reduce the size while keeping the quality. AIUI most jpeg creaters use the default huffman coefficients rather than calculating and specifying an optimised set so there are size savings to be made there. More savings can be made by using arithmetic coding but if you

      • by sumonali (2938325)
        Taking the bug into count Samsung prepared S4 and declared it is more furnished than S3. Of course chrome solved such problems but the specified bug was not identified when it was launched.
    • by telchine (719345)

      Who uses the default browser nowadays? Chrome for mobile has to be one of the first apps anyone would install on an Android phone, surely?

      • Personally I'd never buy an Android phone where the stock browser wasn't already Chrome.
        • One of the nicer things about Android is the existence of Firefox on it. That's one of the reasons I've ditched my iOS gadgets. Chrome? Naw. Why leap out of the walled garden into the Googleplex when you don't have to?

          • I actually prefer Firefox to Chrome on the desktop. My comment was just meant to say that I wouldn't buy an Android phone that wasn't one of Google's reference models, which (AFAIK) all run Chrome as the stock browser. My understanding is that Mobile Firefox is a little assy, but I don't have much firsthand experience.
            • by telchine (719345)

              I agree! I use Firefox exclusively!

              (sorry for taking so long to reply, but your comment took a while to render in my browser)

      • by bobjr94 (1120555)
        Not chrome, but for the past several years Ive used Dolphin. Either way, most people I know do not use their default browser. So shouldnt be a big deal, if you use the default browser, your near hitting your monthy bandwitth limits or getting overcharges, take 10 seconds to get a different browser.
      • by neonmonk (467567)

        Opera. Best text-wrapping of all the browsers.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Friday May 31, 2013 @08:33PM (#43880113)

    The Samsung S3 browser bug
    ======================
    When comparing our results on the different devices and networks for our Wikipedia trace, we noticed significantly higher latencies for our Samsung S3 smartphone on both Wifi and 3G. We first looked at the number of HTTP requests per page and the size of the pages down loaded from the server. Our findings are illustrated on Fig. 13. The number of HTTP requests is always much higher for the Samsung S3 and the page sizes are much bigger. Note that the page size for Samsung S3 on 3G is sometimes very small as we only account for successfully transferred bytes and not expected object sizes. On a successful page load, the page sizes should be the same on both networks. Fig. 14 gives an insight into the cause of the problem. By
    looking at the recorded HTML page source, we saw that Wikipedia pages use srcset HTML tags that indicate a list of images to pick from depending on the resolution and magnification needed by the device. It turns out that the S3 browser has a bug and systematically downloads all images in a srcset instead of picking only the one it needs (left most red circles on Fig. 14 show 3 different versions of the same image being downloaded). This can result in a massive amount of extra data download.

    The Wikipedia page dedicated to the Internet Explorer browser that typically requires 600KB of data download jumped to 2.1MB on the S3. This bug significantly affects the Wikipedia performance on 3G were these massive number of requests for image downloads overwhelmed the network and ended up timing out rendering an incomplete page. This can be seen on Fig. 14 where a large number of requests are blocked for very long amount of time and many of them fail with a ‘NO RESPONSE’ HTTP error code. Note that we were able to reproduce these results with the latest Android 4.2.2 for the S3 GT-I9300(international version of the phone). The issue was also reproduced with an S3 SGH-I747 which is the AT&T US version of the phone. We believe that this problem affects all S3 versions and have contacted Samsung to report the issue.Having a database with results from other devices helped us to quickly locate the origin of the problem and detect this previously undiscovered bug. Based on this experience, a possible direction for future work is to design tools that automatically analyze and report anomalies by comparing
    experience reports between devices/networks for the same trace.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Note that this is the Android browser, Chrome doesn't seem to be affected.

      Personally I can't recreate this bug over wifi (monitoring HTTP requests via my router) and performance on 3G seems fine with the page they mention (Internet Explorer). Unfortunately they don't seem to give the exact firmware version, just the version of Android.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So... not that big of a deal.

    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday May 31, 2013 @09:12PM (#43880357) Homepage Journal

      Wikipedia is the only site I know that does.

      Which isn't surprising: none of the major browsers support srcset yet. Not even Safari, despite srcset being an Apple-designed standard [w3.org]. (The editor is an Apple employee and is the person who came up with this standard that no one except Samsung implements.)

      Of course, there's very little point to implementing srcset as the use case for "hi-DPI images" is basically non-existent, so I suppose it's just as well that almost no one has bothered implementing a nearly worthless spec.

      • by LocalH (28506)

        You mean that the impending (any year now) increase in hi-DPI displays is not worth preparing, ahead of time, so that your work doesn't look like shit on the newest devices?

        • by POWRSURG (755318)
          When the standard has not been fully defined and is not working in any current browser, yes, I'm all for pushing the bar of HTML5. I actually bought one of the Firefox OS developer phones. It's great for those of us who want to experiment, but I wouldn't make a big case if browsers working on experimental features have bugs in them. Heck, I wasn't aware that srcset had even gotten to an experimental implementation stage yet. No one else has implemented it. Kudos to Samsung for starting on it.
      • Re: Wikipedia is the only site I know that does [use srcset]

        Interestingly enough, searching for "srcset" on wikipedia yields no results on any pages at all anywhere on wikipedia.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=srcset [wikipedia.org] yields:

        Did you mean: secret ?

        There were no results matching the query.

        The page "Srcset" does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.
        For search help, please visit Help:Searching.

        B

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Friday May 31, 2013 @08:35PM (#43880133)
    All pages go through their browser for reformatting to your device's screen dimensions and compression. There's also an option to disable loading of images, which I use most of the time. The only downside is all your web activity is seen by their servers, so I only use the Opera for my unimportant stuff.
    • All pages go through their browser for reformatting to your device's screen dimensions and compression.

      So you don't download the Mini but the Mobile version

      Opera Mobile is a complete web browser installed on your mobile phone — all the code rendering and JavaScript
      interaction happens on your mobile. This is in contrast to Opera Mini, where the rendering happens on the server
      and a compressed version is then sent to the handset.

      http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/opera-mobile-10-beta-developers-introduction/ [opera.com]

      Opera is my Browser of choice and the best ever I feel, at least up to version 12.14, (desktop)
      I also don't do anything of importance with my cell phone or tablet, but for a different reason. It's possible those could easily be lost or stolen.

  • Pretty astounding given how long the S3 has been out. I guess people don't care enough about their data usage to investigate their data.

    My girlfriend once discovered that a gas station charged her card 0.03 when she didn't pump any gas (I think she got a call and had to go before actually pumping). I imagine this S3 browser issue is comparable to the gas station incident.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Pretty astounding given how long the S3 has been out. I guess people don't care enough about their data usage to investigate their data.

      Or people don't use the built in browser in favour of one of many of the more capable alternatives. My only complaint with Samsung Galaxy series of devices is that I can't remove the browser icon from the quick launch on the phones. It's using valuable screen space better suited to the Chrome icon.

  • Why does it seem when major problems like this arise companies are quick to dismiss/deny/ignore whatever as the first response?
    • by trparky (846769)
      It's easier to stick your head in the sand and act like nothing is wrong than to admit you messed up.
      • by Emmanuel Cecchet (2937603) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:27PM (#43880955) Homepage
        Actually trying to report the bug to Samsung was quite hard. First there is no place to report such bug in the first place. The place that seemed the most appropriate was tech support but it showed that Samsung is a hardware and not a software company. The tech support can just handle hardware issues with the phone or basic user issues using the phone. When we submitted our bug report to them they were at a complete loss and didn't know what to do with it. The office of the CEO message was kind of a last resort measure but once again the supposedly R&D team that reviewed the issue dismissed it saying it was just an Android problem and didn't investigate further. To really attract their attention, we should probably have posted on their Facebook page but maybe this /. post will incite them to look into the issue again. The conspirationist will see a collusion between Samsung and carriers trying to squeeze more money from users by inflating their data usage. The engineer will just see a subtle bug that is not easy to catch by QA unless you can compare your device behavior with other devices and automatically detect such anomalies.
    • Why does it seem when major problems like this arise companies are quick to dismiss/deny/ignore whatever as the first response?

      I am not sure of your personal beef, but from the article which identifies a minor bug "have contacted Samsung to report the issue." Where is Samsung dismissing or denying...or ignoring the problem.

      • by Moppusan (2837753)

        Why does it seem when major problems like this arise companies are quick to dismiss/deny/ignore whatever as the first response?

        I am not sure of your personal beef, but from the article which identifies a minor bug "have contacted Samsung to report the issue." Where is Samsung dismissing or denying...or ignoring the problem.

        Calm down there sparky, I'm no Samsung fanboy (although I am looking at a Samsung monitor right now), I was just referring to the summary "So far Samsung didn't acknowledge the problem though it seems to affect all S3 phones." I guess I should never trust /. summaries to be accurate in any way, shape or form.

    • Why does it seem when major problems like this arise companies are quick to dismiss/deny/ignore whatever as the first response?

      I agree, this is extremely annoying of so many companies. You're supposed to be a respectable company selling very expensive phones, why not stand up and say at least something like "Samsung has verified the issue and is investigating it".

  • Instead of shelling out more money for an unlimited plan, you could just use a different browser from the stock one.

  • by Severus Snape (2376318) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:29PM (#43880741)
    The comments so far have made this out to not be such a big deal, people should just use other browsers. I see it differently. The majority of smartphone users now aren't just the tech savy, it is now mostly ordinary users too. When considering 500MB is the usual data cap this is a problem, with the amount of data slurped up by the likes of Facebook, this must push useage up pretty high if loading a wikipedia page is taking over 2MB of data. Once your over your cap, the costs sky rocket. This is before you even thinking about the difference in loading time of 3G from the need to pull 10 times as much data.

    Unfortunately with the situation we have on android, with handset developers and carriers both being reluctant to push updates, don't expect this to be fixed any time soon.
    • I'e had 3 updates to my Note 2 since November and my housemate recently had an update to her S3 Mini so I think, at least with Samsung's newer phones, that they're finally doing the right thing.

    • by neonmonk (467567) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:01AM (#43881315)

      As others have noted, Wikipedia is pretty much the only website that has even implemented src-set. This is not a big problem. This is a very minor problem.Maybe if the whole world was using src-set then it would be a big problem, but they're not, and won't be for a long time seeing as none of the big 4 browsers have implemented it.

      • by dkf (304284)

        As others have noted, Wikipedia is pretty much the only website that has even implemented src-set. This is not a big problem.

        There are quite a few sites that use MediaWiki (often with heavy skinning) and many of those will be sites that users are more likely to visit than average. On the other hand, the number of those that use a srcset is probably quite a bit lower (unless MediaWiki is doing the work behind the scenes). In short, while the problem isn't pressing, it should be addressed sooner rather than later as it is likely to become more prevalent.

        Mind you, I think there are good reasons for just scrapping srcset entirely; th

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      very few sites use this html feature.
      that's why it's not such a big deal.

    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:32AM (#43881379) Homepage Journal

      When considering 500MB is the usual data cap this is a problem, with the amount of data slurped up by the likes of Facebook, this must push useage up pretty high if loading a wikipedia page is taking over 2MB of data.

      Not really, because Wikipedia is basically a worst-case scenario. To show you what I mean, here's the first <img> tag off Wikipedia's home page at present:

      <img alt="The Tichborne Claimant" src="//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/37/TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg/100px-TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg" width="100" height="137" srcset="//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/37/TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg/150px-TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/37/TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg/200px-TichborneClaimantSketch_cropped.jpg 2x" />

      The bug appears to be that it loads all three images specified - the 100px (from src), and the 150px and 200px (from srcset) versions. But that's because Wikipedia not only uses srcset, it provides three different resolutions: a default (100px), and two "high DPI" versions (1.5x and 2x). Most other websites don't even use srcset at all - because no other browser even supports it. Not Firefox, not Chrome, not even Safari despite srcset being an Apple creation.

      Facebook doesn't use srcset, so it won't trigger this bug.

      In fact, I don't know of any website that does use srcset other than Wikipedia. Google doesn't. Twitter doesn't. Facebook doesn't. Slashdot doesn't. (Nor does CNN, Fox News, the BBC, Yahoo, Flickr, Tumblr, or Amazon.com.)

      It's basically a bug that will only trigger on Wikipedia, so no, it's not really a big deal because unless you spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, you'll almost never trigger it.

      It's still a bug that should be fixed, but I'd be hard-pressed to call it a "big deal," solely because about the only way you'll trigger it presently is on Wikipedia.

      • Can't this just be done in CSS? I thought CSS was supposed to take away the responsibility for making things look good, the HTML was just for the real data now.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          Can't this just be done in CSS? I thought CSS was supposed to take away the responsibility for making things look good, the HTML was just for the real data now.

          well yeah but apparently they(people who wrote the article) made another standard that nobody except wikipedia uses and nobody except s3 browser implements...

          on the other hand it could be that it loads them for handling multiple zoom levels.

      • If any body create your web site than you communication with us...http://www.idragontech.co.uk/
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      with the amount of data slurped up by the likes of Facebook

      Not sure what it's like where you live, but in my country all social media traffic is entirely unmetered. I'm on the cheapest contract I can get and Facebook Twitter, etc are unmetered. I could literally break my monthly allowance in under 1 minute on my phone, but Facebook is still entirely free.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Samsung is fairly quick with updates. We get an average of about one a month these days, and they are mostly just bug fixes and performance improvements.

  • ya i agree very few sites use this html feature
  • it's a feature. he.
  • This is a problem for Apple, not Samsung. Really. Even if Samsung made the phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung S4 have a popularity which beats anything currently made by Apple.

    Why is it a problem for Apple even if Samsung made the phone? Because Galaxy S3 is already an oldish model and Galaxy S4 doesn't have it, and the error can be fixed via an update if it eventually will be seen as a serious nuisance.

    Apple has many issues. Even the minor bugs on their main phone competitor Samsung may set the Apple

  • I recently parted ways with employment supporting smart phones. Oh so very many months ago, I started to receive calls on an increasing basis from people freaking out over way more data usage on their bill than they insisted they were actually using. I would go back over their history and see a point where data usage suddenly dropped of throughout the rest of their history. It was always after an upgrade... to an s3. I chalked it up to people digging their slick new s3 more than they realized. After al

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