Android Update Wiping Out User Data: Why?

Earlier in this week, Chrome 79 for Android update rolled out the phishing protections and the ability to reorder bookmarks. Because reportedly a WebView issue related to that version is affecting the third-party Android apps and causing the loss in user data.

As some apps are not native and essentially these behave just wrappers for webpages. Hence, the developers that build the applications in this manner get the latest browser APIs and features when Google updates Android System WebView via Play Store. This is the case on Android 10 only for older versions of the OS leverage Chrome.

WebView of Android is a system component powered by Chrome, allows the Android apps to show the web content. That is pre-installed component on your device and it should be kept up to date to make sure that you have the latest security updates and other bug fixes.

Android developers reliant on WebView and the local storage started encountering an issue on Friday morning, where their apps lost the data after users updated to version 79 of WebView. The affected took to Chromium’s bug tracker and have described the incident as a “catastrophe” and “major issue.”

This situation was like, as if apps were entirely reset and just downloaded for the first time to end users. This also includes saved data disappearing or being logged out. Most will blame the developers for a problem that’s out of their hands, given the level of system opacity.

The response of Google engineers came by that afternoon and remains isolated the issue to “profile layout changes” where “local storage was missed off the list of files migrated”. And a member of Chromium team also apologized on Saturday morning, with the Chrome/WebView rollout stopped after 50 percent of devices already received the update.

Google is currently working on a solution at the highest priority level that minimizes the data loss, and that can be rolled out safely. Last guidance for a patch is 5-7 days.