iOS 17.5 bug can also surface deleted photos on wiped, sold devices

A bug in iOS 17.5 apparently causes deleted photos to reappear, and the problem even seems to affect iPhones and iPads that have been wiped and sold to other people.

iOS 17
A Reddit user swiped an iPad in September 2023 following Apple guidelines before selling it to a friend. That friend updated the ‌iPad‌ to iPadOS 17.5 this week and saw the Reddit user’s old photos reappear in the Photos app. From Reddit:

I wiped down the iPad using official Apple manuals before selling it. I never signed in with my Apple ID on that iPad after I erased the iPad. I sold my iPad to a friend in September 2023, they called me today after updating to iPad OS 17.5 and said my old photos showed up in their Photos app… HUGE PRIVACY VIOLATION. I see other posts about that. How many people get other people’s photos on the devices they bought from other people?

The affected ‌iPad‌ was a fourth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro that had been updated to the latest operating system update, and before being sold it was wiped per Apple’s instructions. The Reddit user says that at no point did he log back into the ‌iPad‌ after erasing it, so it’s completely unclear how their old photos ended up appearing on the device again.

Earlier this week we shared several other reports from users who saw deleted photos reappear on their devices after the update, but those reports were from users who still owned their devices and were signed in to their own iCloud Photo Libraries and Apple IDs.

The latest report suggests that the wiped and sold ‌iPad‌ is somehow recovering old photos from an Apple ID that is no longer logged in. The Reddit user says the photos reappearing are from 2017, which is in line with similar reports. The images were initially taken on an iPhone and thus synced to the ‌iPad‌ via iCloud Photo Library before the ‌iPad‌ was erased and sold.

Other users have seen photos from years ago (until 2010) suddenly reappear, with no explanation as to why. Not all users see this issue and it doesn’t seem to affect all deleted images.

Apple devices should keep photos in the Recently Deleted section of the ‌Photos‌ app for 30 days, and images should be deleted automatically if a second deletion is performed from the Recently Deleted interface. Apple hasn’t yet provided any information about why some users are seeing photos reappear, and it’s concerning to hear of old photos appearing on a device that has been wiped and sold.

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