Update your iPhone now — Apple just fixed this potentially embarrassing Photos bug

iOS 17.5 ready to download on an iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

The latest iOS 17 version is now available for downloading. And iOS 17.5.1 is well worth installing since it'll fix a weird bug that could bring back photos you thought you'd deleted.

After iOS 17.5 officially launched last week, some users began reporting of a bug that would "undelete" deleted photos, popping them back in their Photos app as an unwelcome surprise. In one case the photos reappeared even after the device had been wiped and sold to someone else, which makes a concerning situation even more worrying for user privacy.

A screenshot of the iOS 17.5 patch notes, addressing the photo un-deleting bug

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This issue applied to both iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5. Fortunately, both an iOS 17.5.1 update and an iPadOS 17.5.1 update are available to download now.

A screenshot of the iPadOS 17.5 patch notes, addressing the photo un-deleting bug

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As the notes for the updates explain, Apple says the issue happened to "photos that experienced database corruption." We aren't told why or how this corruption occurred, but presumably it led to the delete command in the Photos app not behaving like it should. This would then leave the "deleted" images still present in your device's storage, and fully accessible unless you happened to save over that portion of memory.

Even if you've not experienced this phantom photo issue, it's probably a good idea to install this update on your iPhone or iPad to eliminate the risk. Nobody wants personal — and potentially sensitive — images reappearing on their device when you least expect it.

Just a fix

Both iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1 are very much an emergency patch kind of update, with no new features to try in either. But the original iOS 17.5 update's features included direct app downloads from developer websites in the EU, unified tracking tag detection (in collaboration with Google), and a new game and offline mode for Apple News Plus.

The next time we'll see big Apple software upgrades will likely be at WWDC 2024 in June. This should be the time and place we see what iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15 and other Apple OSes will offer in the future. And other than a lot of useful-looking accessibility upgrades, word on the street is it's going to revolve heavily around AI-powered features.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.