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Automated Backup on Android Marshmallow

Gone are the days where our data is confined to a computer. Now, the world is full of connected devices that store all sorts of data – laptops, tablets and phones to name a few. We all know how important it is to back up our data, but that importance goes beyond just the computer. If the data is personal to you, it needs to be backed up.

Your phone contains a lot of important data. That includes your photos and videos. But chances are if you’re backup conscious, you’ve already got a solution in place to ensure this type of data is safe. However, what about the other information on your device? Stuff like your app data isn’t something you might immediately think of to backup, but that’s important too.

Backing up on Android hasn’t always been the smoothest and Google are trying to improve that with their latest Android Marshmallow operating system. Titled ‘Auto Backup for Apps’, this system moves all of the app’s data into a Google Drive folder. This backs up everything for apps, including data, settings and logins.

This is a feature that will be enabled by default and developers will need to opt-out of it if they don’t wish their app to support it. Alternatively, they can tweak the specific files that ae backed up. Also, users can turn the system off entirely if they don’t want it.

Apps using this backup system should save their data every 24 hours, though that depends on the device being currently charged, on a Wi-Fi network and being idle for an hour. The data is then encrypted and sent over to Google Drive. Though each app is limited to backing up 25MB of data, this doesn’t count towards a user’s storage quota for Google Drive.

To support this new feature, developers need to be using something called API 23. By working to the API level, it means that a developer has tested their app on the latest version of Android and can take advantage of any of the new features that the operating system has.

Currently, not many apps support API 23, but this will undoubtedly grow as the user base for Android Marshmallow increases, a figure which will depend on how quickly device manufacturers push the update out.

According to Ars Technica, Google still has some ways to go in making this a complete backup solution. They report that the system doesn’t backup stuff like clock alarms, Bluetooth devices, “OK Google” voice training, Exchange accounts and permissions. However, we can assume that Google will work to improve their backup system, following from user demand and the way that developers use the feature.

Whatever the case, it’s great that Google are getting more serious about building in backup as a default feature. While computers usually remain static, phones and tablets are always on the go and vulnerable to data loss in ways that most computers aren’t – if they get damaged, lost or stolen, for example. Having that data automatically backed up will ensure a smooth and easy user experience for all.


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