iPhone users urged to install critical Apple update to stop bizarre photo bug

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Apple has updated iPhones to fix an issue that meant previously deleted pictures could reappear.

Some users reported that the problem led to sensitive and personal images, which had been deleted years before, showing up in their image library. Others said that the problem even happened on devices that had been erased and sold to somebody else.

Now, Apple has pushed an update to all users that it said "addresses a rare issues where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted".

It gave no indication of how common the problem was, or what might lead it to occur. But all users are advised to install the update, which also "provides important bug fixes".

The new software, numbered iOS 17.5.1, is available now. It can be downloaded through the Settings app by clicking "general" and then "software update", and the phone may automatically prompt users to install it.

The problem began earlier this month, when Apple released a new update numbered iOS 17.5. That brought a range of changes, including a feature that lets people in the EU download apps straight from websites, alongside other changes.

But quickly it was a bug rather than a feature that dominated much of the atteention on the new update. Users across Reddit and other forums said that images were returning from having been deleted.

The notes that Apple published with the update gave no indication of why the photos had been resurfaced, and Apple is yet to comment on the issue publicly.

But some experts have suggested that it may be a result of the way that iPhones and other devices deal with deleted files – that data can sometimes actually stay on the device, and instead the software just ignores it. What's more, photos are now backed up to the cloud instantly, which may mean that they are replicated numerous times, and could return from various places.

Apple's release notes also gave no information on what to do about devices that might have been sold or passed on, though it suggested that the update would fix that problem too.