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Apple rolls out iOS and iPadOS 17.5.1 to fix critical photos app bug

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  • 3 min read

Apple users were recently encouraged to update their iOS and iPadOS 17.5 devices, but it appears another update is already on the way. Just a week after the initial release, iOS and iPadOS 17.5.1 were deployed to fix a critical issue with the Photos app that caused deleted images to reappear unexpectedly, raising cybersecurity questions.

This release’s main focus is to resolve a bug identified in iOS and iPadOS 17.5. Apple described it as a “rare issue where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted.”

This bug led to previously deleted images, sometimes from years ago, resurfacing in users’s photo libraries after updating to iOS 17.5.

The update is available for iPhone XS and later, iPad Pro 13-inch, iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2nd generation and later, iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch 1st generation and later, iPad Air 3rd generation and later, iPad 6th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later.

This anomaly sparked controversy and concern among users, particularly those who had sold or given away their devices, fearing the potential privacy implications of deleted images reappearing.

Although Apple has not disclosed the technical details of how this issue occurred, it likely involves the way deleted images are handled within the iPhone’s storage system.

Several iPhone and iPad models are affected by the bug.

Typically, deleting an image only disconnects the data, which remains on the device until it is overwritten by new data. Some bugs in the 17.5 update version may have made these dormant files visible again.

However, updating to 17.5.1 doesn’t delete the photos that reappeared. Users will have to delete them manually. The update stops the issue from happening again.

As Apple is silent on the issue, the internet is rife with theories about why it happened. One Reddit user who claims to be a private contractor at Apple explains that the incident occurred when users deleted their photos from the Photos app but not the Files app.

When a user downloads a photo, sends/receives it, or takes a screenshot, the photos are simultaneously stored in both ‘Files’ and ‘Photos’ applications. The bug in iOS and iPadOS 17.5 attempted to re-save all photos and media from the ‘Files’ app to the ‘Photos’ app during re-indexing.

Apple should issue a statement to dispel the conspiracy theories prevailing on the internet and regain user trust.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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