Last month, Ted Landau devoted a Bugs & Fixes entry to a mystery Mail bug in the iPhone OS 3.0 update. As Ted reported back in July, searches using the phone’s Spotlight feature occasionally turn up long-deleted e-mails. Tap on one of those mystery messages, Ted wrote, and it will appear in the Mail app as, if it had never been deleted. Exit to the parent screen, however, and the message will vanish.
In the ensuing month, this Mail bug has gotten more notice around the Internet. One user by the name of Matt Janssen even put together a YouTube video of the bug. One interesting difference from Ted’s initial report: in the YouTube video—embedded below for your convenience—tapping on the deleted message launches Mail, which then crashes. A second tap opens the message.
So what’s going on here? Back in July, the estimable Mr. Landau speculated that deleted e-mail messages weren’t being fully erased from the iPhone’s drive and, therefore, could be discovered by Spotlight. Whatever the cause, the bug is more than just an annoyance—having messages you thought were deleted accessible with just a little bit of effort represents something of a security hole.
“Hopefully,” Ted wrote at the time, “Apple is aware of this bug and intends to fix it in iPhone OS 3.1.” Strike “hopefully” from that sentence. Gizmodo reports that one of those ever-chatty inside tipsters says that Apple is aware of the problem and links to a When Will Apple? report claiming that iPhone 3.1 will deliver a fix for the Mail bug. (And there’s video, too.)