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Photos app bug resurrects long-removed photos (related to PNG alpha)

4830 Views 24 Replies Latest reply: Feb 14, 2014 6:31 PM by Red savage RSS
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Morgan Adams1 Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Mar 3, 2012 6:24 PM

Wanted to report/discuss a possible privacy concern and image glitch, and understand it better for submission to Apple's feedback page: the iPad (and maybe iPhone) Photos app will consitently resurrect long-deleted photos in your Camera Roll, under certain circumstances. These are long-removed photos (as in removed many months ago, prior to the iOS 5 update), and possibly only the reduced-size thumbnail versions.


Note: as near as I can tell, the deleted photos were NOT originally from the camera roll! That's where they resurface, but I believe they are photos from other albums, maybe once which used to by synched to iPad but which I no longer synch. So "removed" might mean deleted or it might mean "no longer synched to iPad"... the images are so old I can't recall.


So the bug, I'm guessing, it two-fold:


1) The Photos app (and/or iPhoto during wired synch?) is not fully removing photos (or at least, their thumbs). They're no longer visible in Photos app, but are being retained somewhere on the device.


2) A glitch in the Photos camera roll PNG handling (which I think may be new with iOS 5) causes those old images ro re-surface when you add a PNG to the camera roll. (The old photos were JPEG, but the image that triggers the bug must be a PNG with alpha channel)


I have seen this on both an iPad 1 and iPad 2, running iOS 5.


Here's how to reproduce it:


1) Synch some photos to your iPad, then deselect them for synching and re-synch (so they're not there any more). Also, add some photos or screenshots to the camera roll and then delete them. I say to do both because I'm not 100% where the old photos come from, and I'm hoping this covers all bases! Actually, most people have already done these things in the past, and can probably skip this step.


2)  Generate a transparent PNG using the art app Procreate (and probably any app that saves PNGs to the camera roll with alpha channel). All you have to do is scribble somethign into a blank Procreate canvas, then export it to your photo album. There is no need to do anything special to get an alpha channel or PNG format: you always get that. (Unless you used the Fill command to completely cover the canvas.) Now in the camera roll there should be your scribble on a transparent background. You can email it to yourself and see that clearly in Photoshop or Preview.


3) Here's the glitch: look at your camera roll (thumbnails view) and you'll see that the alpha-transparent background of the image has become one of your old removed photos! Tap it to enlarge and the alpha becomes black (which is fine, although it may seem odd if you intended to paint onto the default white canvas). But for just a moment, before you see the black, you will get a full-size glimpse of the old photo. (Or, maybe, an enlargement of the thumbnail?)


4) If you keep saving more alpha PNGs, you'll keep seeing more and different old photos coming back to life in the alpha regions of the thumbnails (and, briefly, at full size).


5) If you delete all those PNGs and then save some new ones, you'll see the same sequence of old photos reappear again.


Needed fix: removed phtos/thumbnails should be properly purged, and alpha PNGs should show simply black (or some default background) at all times.

iPad 2, iOS 5, WiFi 64 GB
  • gto49us Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, I can confirm this is happening on my iPad2 too. Most frustrating! It happens only in the thumbnail; once you open the photo (with the other photos as background...yes, there can be multiple images), then the background disappears. It looks to me that it's an enlargment of the thumbnail because it's very pixelated.


    Obviously, the thumbnails of deleted photos are retained in memory somewhere, and come back (to haunt you) later on...

  • kelly.bee Calculating status...

    This has been happening for over a year. It was there in iOS5. I experienced it then, reported the issue to Apple and nothing has been done about it. I can confirm that it is still happening (albeit a bit differently) with the latest version of iOS. I am surprised that this hasn't gotten more attention in the media.


    What has been fixed in the latest update is that the thumbnails now show a black background (tough luck if your image is black and alpha) however the cover of your library still exhibits these symptoms. If your alpha image is the last image in your library then it will show that image and a deleted image in the background as the 'image' for that library.

  • SLE74 Calculating status...

    Ive just discovered this bug tonight and Am very concerned about it. Its pretty poor that the issue has it not been adressed considering the privacy concerns it raises.

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This is re. a double image glitch within thumbnails on a iPad2/ 32k 3G...

    Welcome ,

    I'm new to this forum but I've asked the question at iPad Forum and they really didn't follow it through.

    Had another instance of double image with a gif overlaying a unknown pic from my camera roll and I Binged it

    once again and came up with your enlightened discussions. I was extremely happy to find others who have experienced

    this glitch! I was under the impression that it was only my variables that was causing it.


    At first I thought it was caused by my roll size,(9000+) then I thought it was ios6-1.2 , then just a gif problem.

    I'm fairly sure it didn't happen before because I just started using gif's recently for forums and em's and I would have noticed a double image much as I did this must be gif specific.


    You could imagine my surprise when I went back to my photo album to lift a gif for an em and saw another pic      beneath it yet when I brought it to page from thumbnail the underlying pic disappeared! I immediately tested it by sending the gif to myself to verify it was traveling solo. It seemed kind of logical that the gif couldn't perform if it

    was incumbered with info from the underlying pic. It arrived clean but now what with the pic beneath that was being

    eaten alive by it would i lose it if I was to delete the gif? As my album is so large the two times I tried to find the

    bottom pic I couldn't. It wasn't till I read here that it could be a deleted pic that I thought maybe that was the answer...


    This problem I now know is real at least and not  a random million to one glitch that only a few we're experiencing.


    I welcome any response to this such as; was anybody able to find the underlining pic in their album or recognize it

    prior to it being overlaid in the thumbnails and if so, when you deleted the overlay..did you loose the original?

    This is why I'm so concerned. Logic should dictate if the gif reassembles on its own complete it shouldn't be able

    to carry the underlying pic with it when deleted, no? 


    I look forward to any ideas you all have. I intend to reread every entry in this section thoroughly so don't be irritated that I may have missed a point or suggestion from somebody already mentioned as I scanned them rather quickly so

    happy that I was to find problems such as mine.


    Good Day and Thank You for bearing through this long explanation.

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Addition to my first post.. I just went back to my album to lift the gif for insertion in a em when I found the underlying

    pic broke free on its own right next to the double image; this has never happened before...maybe you guys were good

    luck!  Anyway, it came to full page all into itself complete. Now I had rebooted prior to this but there was no change then, only just now when I went back did I find this anomaly.


    Please do still let me know your thoughts as I value them. Least now I don't have to scroll through 9,000 pics trying

    to find one lost lamb!!

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    ...Come into itself was in re. to the underlying pic being complete in itself, (totally full frame unencumbered) right next to the double image that still showed it beneath.


    Insofar as this being a deleted pic, I can't attest to that, though I recognize it there is a possibility I had altered it

    in Photo Toaster or one of my photo apps then deleted the original as you mention at the end of your statement.


    If this was a thumbnail how did it come to full frame, this never happened before... it definitely wasn't at that location

    before, nor were any of the other underlying pics under gifs.

    What I'm trying to say is: when the gif was sent to the album it didn't attach to the latest photos taken as I know that grouping due to daily travel, it as you said must have attached to a image either deleted or deep in the album.


    I do feel more reassured that when I scrub a gif no longer in use I won't be also scrubbing the underlining pic...

    which may have actually already been gone; is that weird or what?


    And what about that image tonight that came up from under the thumbnail. Keep in mind that when this situation occurs and you bring the thumbnail to page the underlaying image always,(??) falls away.


    I most certainly appreciate the effort you're putting into this, I sort of felt poo-poo'ed in the iPad Forum whereas         you are rationalizing using intellect it seemed they used standard conjecture and left it at that.


    Thank you...looking forward to your response, think we have a live one here!

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    ....I've got to get back to you on that, it's a tad comlicated for a iPad novice such as myself but I will most certainly look

    it over in its entirety and and attempt to give you a cognizant answer that doesn't reflect my total naivety regarding the

    given other words, SAAAAAY WHAAAT?


    Of course I'm only kidding, I will run all this through the grinder tomorrow as right now I've got to eat dinner and

    watch Paranormal Activity 4 before I drop.


    You are super, thanks for your to you on the flip side.

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Ok, I replicated it and I don't like it! I didn't use the one you marked cause I couldn't call it up properly but I did Bing

    transparent gifs and loaded up 3, one was totally invisible in the thumbnail and I could clearly see one of my pics perfectly in the thumbnail but when I brought it to page the gif filled the frame.

    I have no idea where the pic came from, I mean I recognize it but from where in the album I have no idea.


    Oh yeah, I was wrong about the first pic coming to page, it wasn't the same image but a different one...and I have no idea how the one that came up, (what i thought was the underlying pic) did, or how it got there or even from where.


    This is some weird stuff though not as weird as that silly *** movie, what a load of tripe; I should have just spent my

    time on this, it's infinitely more enjoyable!


    Ok, here's the consensus from my layman iPad view:

    What happened now and most probably before was a 'transparent gif' or a partially transparent gif like the one I spoke of first that I could see the edge of or the outer perimeter of, the underlining image with the gif taking up say 3/4 of the thumbnail; this it what it was.

    This is totally apparent to me now because of your having me import a totally transparent gif which was invisible over my pic, thus the freaky part I didn't like...keying the thumbnail with one thing and ending up with something totally different when brought to page.


    Still doesn't explain where this silly iPad is grabbing these pics from?


      But here's something funny; my camera roll shows say 9,200 pics but my, 'iMy System' app say I have like 11,300 which I always thought was a fluke, that it was just reading wrong but maybe it's seeing something we're not.           What if all those pics we're deleting to save space or just generally culling have never left the system?                     Maybe that goofy app is really reading the true count!

       Those others up above us here who mentioned privacy concerns.. this could be whats going on, there's a ghost

    in the machine and it be our old pics and god knows what else floating around in that iPads memory.


    Ok, I'm crazy tired and I have to wrap this up. Least now we know how to replicate this but on the other hand I think we opened up an even bigger can of worms... the mystery of where all those images are hiding in our iPads?

    I haven't hardwired to a computer since I upgraded to ios5 so whatever's going on here, leastwise for me is iPad

    based and can't be blamed for synching issues like you discuss up above unless what I'm grabbing here is old stuff

    reimported back into my pad from the mainframe when I was backed up for the ios5 upgrade?


    Oh well, let me know what you think. Please do forgive my not getting back to you sooner on account of the movie

    but you already know I regret choosing that over this! Hope you had a good night and thanks...

  • dexipur Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    just so you know.. that text is marked 11something, it's  3am here!  Later, gotta get some shut eye!

  • Dr. Tae Calculating status...

    I just noticed this bug while I was making some transparent png files with an app I'm building. What I saw in the camera roll thumbnail was a STACK of deleted images/thumbnails layered on top of each other through the transparency. They were easier to see when I looked at the camera roll through iPhoto with my device connected.


    It looks like there's a bug where .ithmb files aren't being updated properly when images are deleted. If you use something like iFunBox you can browse the file system of your iWhatever and go to PhotoData>Thumbnails. On my iPhone there are three files: 120x120.ithmb 158x158.ithmb and thumbnailConfiguration. I recommend copying all of those files to your computer so you can take a look at them later if you wish (I'm guessing the ithmb files are where all of those old thumbnails live but I haven't looked at them yet).


    If you need to clear out those old thumbnails, delete those three files and restart the device (this is basically the same procedure for fixing the "disappearing thumbnail" bug that happened with upgrading to iOS5 or something). Then open the Photos app, stare at the scary "No Photos or Videos" screen that appears and wait for the app to rebuild the thumbnails for your photos. After a while, the "No Photos or Videos" screen will go away and the Photos app should return to normal.


    That doesn't fix the bug though. The ithmb files will still keep thumbnails of any NEW pictures you take. Try it: take a picture using your camera, delete it, and then save a transparent image. You'll see a thumbnail of the image you just took and deleted!

  • Emmy_Lou12 Calculating status...

    I've just started encountering this same problem after the i0s7 install and I am now extremely skeptical of iphone's security measures. The pictures do not appear anywhere on my phone, ipad, desktop, or cloud storage yet the thumbnails of deleted photos keep reappearing with png file overlays. I'd very much like to know where the deleted files are coming from.

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