Last week reports started surfacing of what appeared to be a data wiping bug in version 79 of Google Chrome for Android. Following a fix, Google has resumed the rollout.
The issue had to do with Chrome acting as WebView in the most recent versions of Android. Third-party apps that access the web often use Chrome as the rendering engine, rather than bundling one of their own.
According to Android Police, “when you log in with a web page inside an app, or use browsers like DuckDuckGo that lack their own internal rendering engine, Chrome is responsible for loading that content. Some Android apps actually run entirely inside WebView, such as applications built with Apache Cordova (PhoneGap) or packaged web apps like Twitter Lite.
“One of the changes in Chrome 79 is that the location where web data is stored was updated. However, as one comment on a Chromium bug page pointed out, data from localStorage and WebSQL — two types of storage commonly used by web apps and packaged apps — wasn’t migrated properly.
“Long story short, when devices were updated to Chrome 79, web apps and WebView applications had some (or all) local data deleted. While the data is still technically intact, since Chrome didn’t delete old data after the migration, there’s no way to access it right now.”
The new update addresses this issue and properly migrates the data to the new location. If a user upgraded to the broken version 79, any new data saved to the new location will be overwritten with the original data from pre-79 versions of Chrome. In the event important data was saved to the new location with the broken update, that data can still be accessed and recovered if needed.
This fix will be a welcome relief to users who originally thought their data was gone.