Inside Information from Apple Explains Why iPhone Photos Reappeared on iOS 17.5

How to Limit Which Photos Apps Have Access to in iOS 17

Some iPhone users who updated to iOS 17.5 have reported encountering a situation where previously deleted photos reappear in the Photos app. 

This can be concerning, but according to information from a Reddit user who happens to have inside information:

I may or may not know somebody who is a Private Contractor @ Apple, and they may have or may not have given me an explanation on the current situation.

Reveals that it appears to be a software bug rather than a data security issue.

Let’s understand the issue first. iPhones have two separate apps for managing media: Photos and Files. Deleting a photo from the Photos app doesn’t necessarily remove it from the Files app, where a copy might still reside.

The reported bug in iOS 17.5 seems to occur during the update process when the system attempts to re-index all files on the device, including those in the Files app. However, the Photos app is designed to display photos and videos, not regular files.

When the system tries to re-save these “lost” photos from the Files app into the Photos app, it can encounter compatibility issues. This might lead to data corruption, explaining why some users see lower-quality versions or renamed photos upon their supposed reappearance.

This bug doesn’t suggest Apple stores deleted photos without user knowledge or has created a backdoor into iPhones. 

Apple’s official statement mentions “Database Corruption” as a potential cause. Essentially, the bug misinterprets hidden files in Files as lost photos and attempts to re-import them into Photos, causing the illusion of deleted photos reappearing.

While this bug can be inconvenient, it’s not indicative of a larger security issue. Either way, Apple has already released the fix with iOS 17.5.1. 

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