iOS 17.5.1 Contains a Fix for That Reappearing Photos Bug

Apple issued an update today which, it says, ought to patch a bug which resurfaced old and deleted photos:

This update 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.

I suppose even a “rare” bug would, at Apple’s scale, impact lots of people. I heard from multiple readers who said they, too, saw presumed deleted photos reappear.

The thing about these bare release notes — which are not yet on Apple’s support site — is how they do not really answer reasonable questions about what happened. It is implied that the photos in question may have been marked for deletion and were visibly hidden from users, but were not actually removed under an old iOS version. Updating to iOS 17.5 revealed these dormant photos.

Bugs happen and they suck, but a bug like this really sucks — especially since so many of us sync so much of our data between our devices. This makes me question the quality of the Photos app, iCloud, and the file system overall.

Also, the anecdote of photos being restored to the same device after it had been wiped has been deleted from Reddit. I have not seen the same claim anywhere else which makes me think this was some sort of user error.