Pixel 3s-Fatal Error Third Party App Camera Bug: May Be Fixed-in-December-Update

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Already we’ve seen one bug affect how the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL saves photos. That has seenowners frustrated to find that shots they took simply haven’t been saved to the camera roll, despite evidence in the camera app to the contrary.

Google’s latest flagship may have a class-leading camera, but it isn’t without its bugs, and now we have another to add to the list. Unfortunately for some, using the camera in third-party apps may trigger an error which disables the camera entirely until you reboot. Even the stock camera app is non-functional until you power cycle the phone.

Steps required to demonstrate the issue are allegedly quite straightforward, but I’m unable to reproduce the problem on my own Pixel 3, so not all hardware seems to be affected. Testing for yourself is as simple as opening an app that is able to use the camera (for example, Snapchat or Android Messages) and trying to take a photo. If you run into the issue, the camera feed will just be black, and an error message stating either “Can’t connect to the camera” or “The camera device encountered a fatal error” will appear.

Rebooting seems to fix the problem temporarily, allowing the Google Camera app to work again. But for those that are affected, the issue will occur every time a third-party app accesses the camera, so the only long-term fix right now is to entirely disable camera permissions for third-party apps. On affected devices, even a factory reset and a full system wipe/restore are unable to fix the problem.

It’s particularly frustrating, because Google’s camera talents have been in full effect otherwise on the Pixel 3. Despite having only a single main camera, unlike the twin – or more – arrays other flagship smartphones are coming equipped with, the Pixel 3 still manages to create convincing portrait-mode images with background defocus. Most recently, the release of Night Sight has demonstrated just how advanced Google’s computational photography is, clawing usable images from scenes that would typically be too dark to make for effective photos.

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