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Chrome 79 for Android Rollout Paused After Bug Wipes User Data in Some Apps

Google started rolling out Chrome 79 for desktop and mobile users earlier last week. The update includes several bug fixes and phishing protections. However, due to an issue, Google had to pause the rollout after several Android apps suffered data loss, as a result of the update. Google has now halted the rollout of Chrome 79 on Android. The bug was reported by mobile app developers who claimed that it leads to the deletion of user data and resetting of their mobile apps.

In Chrome 79, Google’s developers switched the location of the Chrome directory. This is known to be the primary reason for the issue. The developers admitted their mistake, saying they forgot to move contents of WebSQL into the new directory in Chrome 79. This ensured that user data remained inaccessible. As a result, several users started leaving 1-star ratings for affected apps.

But how did a Chrome update mess around with third-party mobile apps’ user data? Some mobile apps are essentially wrappers for web pages. These mobile app developers rely on Android WebView and local storage to store user data.

After last week’s update, developers noticed that their users were losing data after upgrading to Chrome 79. Chromium’s bug tracker labels this issue as ‘catastrophe’.

For users of these apps, it looked like the app had simply reset. Users couldn’t access their data and were logged out from the apps. Google says around 50 percent of the devices have already received the Chrome 79 update. The company claims it is working on a fix that would minimize the data loss so that the update can be rolled out to everyone else.

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