Google Says Issue With 'Alien' YouTube Clip and Pixel Phones Addressed

People had posted complaints about a bug affecting their Pixel 7, 6 or 6A device when they tried watching a clip of the '70s Ridley Scott film.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
Expertise Google, Internet Culture
Imad Khan
2 min read
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Google said Tuesday that it had tackled a bug that had been crashing some Pixel phones when people tried loading a 4K YouTube clip from the movie Alien.

Some Pixel users complained Monday on the Google Pixel subreddit about the peculiar bug taking down their Google Pixel 7Pixel 6 or 6A device. Some folks said loading the clip via the official YouTube app instantly crashed their phone but that their device worked normally on reboot. Others said they ran into network connectivity issues and had to reboot their phone again. Those with older Pixel devices didn't seem to be running into the issue.

Google said the problem has been addressed and that it'll deploy a full fix in March.

Recent CNET testing showed that the video isn't crashing phones. In earlier tests, CNET staffers found that Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 devices that were up to date crashed immediately when loading the YouTube video. An out-of-date Pixel 7 on build version TD1A.220804.031 and YouTube version 17.17.37 didn't crash.

The nature of the problem, which was reported earlier by Gizmodo, isn't exactly clear. The three-minute clip from Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien involves the protagonist Ripley communicating with Dallas, captain of the Nostromo, as he navigates through the spaceship. The clip was posted two years ago and plays fine on other devices.

Bizarre device crashes seemingly triggered by benign bits of media don't happen all that often. The last notable instance included a "cursed" wallpaper from 2020 that would crash Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Nokia and Xiaomi phones. An investigation by YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss explained how a single pixel caused the phones to run into a boot loop error. 

A text message from 2017 was able to freeze iPhones on certain older versions of iOS 10. Another random bit of crashing involved Janet Jackson's 1989 song Rhythm Nation and how it apparently tanked certain mid-2000s laptops, according to a Microsoft developer. Usually, in these instances, software developers are quick to fix the issue in future updates.