Does iCloud for Windows breaks video downloads and shows other people's photos

[German]There are isolated reports of users complaining that they are shown unknown photos and broken videos using Apple's iCloud for Windows. The assumption is that this content comes from other users' accounts. Affected users  use iCloud for Windows to download the videos or get photos from unknown sources displayed there.


The first reports are already a few days old – a user complained about unusual behavior on his iCloud account on the MacRumors forum on November 17, 2022. He had already reported it to Apple via feedback, but had not received any further confirmations yet. The hope is that other iCloud users may have similar observations – or it may be an isolated case or user error (can't be ruled out). The affected person wrote:

iCloud for Windows Corrupting videos, downloading other people's photos!?!

Summary: iCloud for Windows is corrupting videos recorded from an iPhone 14 pro max resulting in black videos with scan lines. On rare occasions, it is inserting stills into videos from unknown sources, possibly other's iCloud accounts. I've been shown photos of other people's families I've never seen in my life, soccer games, and other random photos. Obviously, this is extremely concerning and does not exactly make me feel safe using iCloud.

Expected results: Original video I took should be downloaded and viewable

Actual results: The video is downloaded, but then immediately becomes corrupt, or shows a photo from an unknown source that I've never seen before.

Replication notes: I have been able to replicate this bug on 3 different PC's, 2 of which were running the latest version of Windows 11 pro, and the last running Windows 10 pro. I have tried on multiple other devices including an iPhone 11 Pro and an iPad. My old videos from my iPhone 13 Pro Max do not appear to be doing this. This bug only seems to appear when using the iPhone 14 pro max with HDR and HEVC enabled. When viewed from, my Mac Pro, or another apple device, the video appears fine. It is not until it is downloaded using the iCloud sync tool that this occurs.

In this particular case, the victim suffers from the fact that videos created from the iPhone 14 Pro Max and uploaded to the user's Apple iCloud account seem to break when downloaded with iCloud for Windows. The video is downloaded, but then it is broken. In addition, the user complains that he is shown photos from an unknown source, he did not take them. The pictures probably show people from families that the person does not know.

For testing purposes, the person in question tested the whole thing on three systems with Windows 10 and Windows 11 using iCloud for Windows and was able to reproduce the error there. On a Mac, on the other hand, he can play the videos from without any problems. This suggests that something is broken when accessing the account using iCloud for Windows. The content from another source that the person is complaining about points to a server-side problem.

Which brings me to the point that account-side encryption of uploaded material would mitigate such potential cases where indexing into the database breaks. Then the encrypted content would simply not be viewable under other people's iCloud accounts.

The person affected gives detailed instructions here on how he was able to reproduce the problem. Other users confirmed this observation in the forum. However, according to my estimation, it does not seem to affect too many users. Recently Apple released an updated version of iCloud for Windows – it is unclear if this is related to that. Anyone from the readership affected? (via)

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