December 16, 2019

Article at The Inquirer

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Google pulls Chrome update after bug hides data in other apps

Google pulls Chrome update after bug hides data in other apps
Literally nobody holds their phone like this.

GOOGLE HAS BEEN FORCED to slam the brakes on the release of Chrome 79 after app developers found an unfortunate side effect: their users' own local data was seemingly wiped.

If your favourite app suddenly seemed to forget all your data, you might be a little ticked off. Some of these channelled their upset into one-star Play Store reviews, which explains the developer anger.

But to back up a bit, how can a Chrome update affect other apps? The answer is down to WebView, which is responsible for rendering web pages within apps without their own methods. One of the things Chrome 79 changes is the location where web data is stored, so the renderer is now simply looking in the wrong place.

The good news is that this means the data isn't deleted - it's just not where WebView expects to find it. That means the bug should be fixable, and Google has signalled this intent on its Chromium bug forums.

"We are currently discussing the correct strategy for resolving this issue," wrote a Google representative, outlining two possibilities: "continue the migration, moving the missed files into their new locations" or "revert the change by moving migrated files to their old locations."

"Are you aware that you can test with beta versions of webview? This change was made in beta 6 weeks ago, and had the issue been picked up at that point we would have been able to address it before it significantly impacted users," he added. True, but probably not the time to raise it with angry developers seeing their apps taking a pasting in Play Store ratings.

In any case, because it's not easy to tell how any given app is made, there isn't a complete list of the affected software. But if your favourite app seems to have forgotten everything, maybe give it a week before taking your anger out on the developer. µ

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