Chrome 79, the latest version of Google’s browser, has automatically rolled out hundreds of millions of users around the world, but it seems to be causing problems for Android users.
According to 9to5Google and expanded upon by Android Police, the newest version of Chrome was found to delete data from Android apps that access Chrome via Android’s built-in WebView. 9to5Google said that users and developers are upset and Chromium’s bug tracker lists comments describing it as a “catastrophe” and “major issue.”
The issues comes when Chrome 79 switches the location where it is storing web data and a failed migration process has caused lost data. The issue was confirmed by Google and paused the rollout, while acknowledging that the update has reached about 50% of devices (there are 2.5 billion Android users worldwide).
According to one Chromium engineer, he revealed that “We are currently discussing the correct strategy for resolving this issue,” and said the company is working on a pair of strategies:
a) continue the migration, moving the missed files into their new locations.
b) revert the change by moving migrated files to their old locations.
“We will let you know which of these two options have been chosen soon,” the engineer continued and also asked for users to “collect a list of affected packages” which suggests there is still some way to go in identifying and fixing all the impacted apps. At this time, there is still no official list of the affected apps.
“I understand that losing data puts you in very difficult positions,” admitted another Chromium engineer. “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!”
If you’re already running Chrome 79, all you will really be able to do is sit and wait for a fix. Since there isn’t any official list of impacted apps and serious risk of data loss accessing those that are, there really isn’t much of a way to protect yourself and the data of affected apps.