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iOS 17.5.1 patches cringey bug that was resurrecting old, deleted photos

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Last week, users over on Reddit began reporting a peculiar issue with iPhones and iPads that have been updated to iOS 17.5/iPadOS 17.5: Devices were mysteriously resurrecting old photos that had previously been deleted. And this glitch could potentially lead to embarrassing situations, as personal and sensitive images users believed were gone for good are suddenly reappearing.

The good news is that Apple has now pushed out iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1, an update that the company says “provides important bug fixes and addresses a rare issue where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted.”

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The problem first surfaced when a user posted about being “thoroughly freaked out” after discovering that NSFW photos taken in 2021, material they thought had been permanently deleted, unexpectedly reappeared on their iPhone following the update. Artwork created on their iPad was also undeleted and appeared in the Photos app.

This revelation sparked a broader discussion among users, many of whom reported similar issues with their devices. Intriguingly, some comments — particularly those involving photos reappearing on devices that had been sold or passed on to third parties — were subsequently deleted, raising questions about the validity of these claims.

Apple has built a mechanism into iOS and iPadOS that enables deleted photos to be recovered for up to 30 days after deletion, but these photos are secured and require authentication to access.

Clues to this bug were offered up in a comment by a Redditor going by the name komocode.  

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This user describes an issue where their iPhone crashed as photos/videos were being uploaded to iCloud, and upon performing a forced reboot, the user discovered that those photos and videos were gone. The user contacted Apple via the support forums, and they were asked to send some diagnostic logs. All of this happened a couple of months ago, but on installing the 17.5 update, those lost photos were restored.

The user goes on to speculate that this bug has been around for some time.

It seemed Apple fixed a photo data loss bug, only to cause photos that were genuinely deleted to reappear.

If you’re concerned about this, apply the iOS 17.5.1 patch that Apple has pushed out, and make sure that your deleted photos stay deleted!


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