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Chrome update paused after other apps’ data goes missing

Google has been forced to pause the rollout of Chrome 79 to Android devices after it began to mess with stored data on other apps.

That may sound implausible, but it all makes sense when you understand how Android WebView works. Basically, apps that don’t have their own rendering engine for websites fall back on Google Chrome as their renderer, and the update changed the place where web data is stored on the handset.

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People discovered that their favourite app had seemingly lost all their data – and subsequently left a lot of angry one-star reviews in response. That’s a harsh, but understandable reaction. After all, if an app stops working, you blame that app not another one. 

The good news is that the data isn’t gone – Chrome didn’t delete data during the migration – but currently there isn’t a way to access it. Google is now looking into a fix after developers arrived on the Chromium bugs board en masse to complain.    

We are currently discussing the correct strategy for resolving this issue,” wrote a Google representative. It’ll either involve moving missing files to the new locations, or by reverting the change and moving files back. 

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We will let you know which of these two options have been chosen soon,” the post continued. “In the meantime it would be good to collect a list of affected packages, and details of whether any mitigations have been released to users, and in what versions so that we can test that the respin doesn’t interact badly with the mitigation.”

As this is a bug that’ll only appear if an app is built in a certain way, there’s no complete list of affected software. But if your favourite app seems to have forgotten everything, it looks like all isn’t lost just yet, so sit tight.

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