Google Chrome’s Latest Update Can Wipe Your Phone’s Data: Report

Google Chrome’s seamless updates are one of its most reliable features, however, unfortunately, a bug in the recent update has all the users riled up.

Google’s Chrome 79 update just started rolling out last week but the updates were abruptly stopped after users started reporting that the update is wiping data off third party applications. The bug has been traced back to apps that use Android’s built-in WebView.

For those who don’t know, a WebView is basically a browser bundled inside a mobile application that allows mobile apps to be built using Web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc. When you log into applications that are lacking an internal rendering engine, Chrome is responsible for loading the content. Some applications like Twitter Lite run completely inside the WebView.

The update was basically being rolled out with new features like phishing protection and the ability to reorder bookmarks. However, it ended up creating a ‘Catastrophe’ and a ‘Major Issue’ as the developers are calling it.

Roots Cause

The problem originates from Chrome 79 switching the location where it stores its data and due to this failed migration process, the data is in a limbo (partially migrated). The data is there, however, third-party applications don’t know how to access it.

The issue has been acknowledged by Google and even though the updates have stopped, more than 50% of devices have received the rollout.

Google is currently working on a workaround, but it might take time before they find a solution. One Chrome engineer said in the comments:

We are currently discussing the correct strategy for resolving this issue. I understand that losing data puts you in very difficult positions. This issue is marked P0 [highest priority] so, at this point, we don’t need more reminders about how important this is for you :) Please understand that the team is working on a solution that minimizes the data loss, and that can be rolled out safely… After we deploy the best mitigation that we can, we’ll figure out how to do better in the future. Thank you for bearing with us!

The team is currently working on a pair of strategies and has said they will notify the users about which of the two options have been chosen. These strategies are:

  • Go on with the migration and move the missed files into their new locations.
  • Revert the changes and move the files to old locations.

  • “Aways read user reviews before updating any App on playstore.”
    I found this sentence helpful at countless times.

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