iOS 17.5 has concerning new bug that's undeleting photos — what you need to know

iOS 17.5 ready to download in Settings app
(Image credit: Future)

Update (May 21): Apple just released an update to fix this issue.

Apple introduced iOS 17.5 this week with exhortations to update iPhones as soon as possible. The latest iOS update was meant to fix a number security vulnerabilities but it appears to have introduced a new bug. 

The troubling new bug, as reported by MacRumors, apparently resurfaces supposedly deleted photos, in some cases from previous years, in photo libraries. 

A number of Reddit users have reported this bug across various Apple-based subreddits

One user claimed that they sold a wiped iPad to a friend and after the 17.5 update their old pictures were appearing in the Photos app. “I see other reports of this. How many people will get other people's photos on the devices they bought from other people?” they asked.

That user says they followed Apple’s guide for wiping devices and did not login on the device afterwards. 

iOS 17.5 complaints surface on Reddit

Other users have chimed in with similar experiences, “Saw 15 duplicates and saw a few recent pics but dated ages back and are not even relevant they are just random pics i must of [sic] deleted a long long time ago oh dear,” said one Redditor. 

A photo which was absolutely not meant to ever reach the surface ever again (deleted 2 years ago) pops up as a new photo on my camera roll.

Reddit user

Another replied, “A photo which was absolute [sic] not meant to ever reach the surface ever again (deleted 2 years ago) pops up as a new photo on my camera roll.”

Some “helpful” Redditors are reminding that digital things never really get fully deleted unless the files are actively overwritten. 

It’s not entirely clear why the 17.5 update is introducing this specific bug or if it's related to the security flaws that the update was meant to fix. 

If it was just recently deleted images, this might make sense as a kind of reset in the system. The Photos app keeps deleted media in a Recently Deleted album for 30 days, in case someone wants to recover them. 

What's behind the bug?

MacRumors speculates that it may be an attempt to fix a photo syncing bug from the 17.3 update. It could be related to iCloud and what is kept or deleted there or a syncing issue between devices and iCloud. 

Reviewing the fixes that Apple says were released for 17.5, nothing mentions any Photo apps or cameras. Though Sync Services received a fix and Screenshot tools as well. Perhaps something in that area. 

Apple has not responded in any feeds or posts about the issue. We’ll see if it becomes an ongoing problem or if Apple will release a hotfix in the coming days.

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.