25
Jul
2012-07-25_15h00_12

The Google Dashboard is a handy tool for keeping up with what information Google has stored for you in its various different products. One piece of the handy information, though, has taken a while to become available but it's there now: your Android devices. It's unclear if this feature has been around for a while, but either way, it's useful. If you'd like to see which devices are registered with Google, and more interestingly, which apps on those devices have backups stored on Google's servers, you can do so from your dashboard.

2012-07-25_15h09_25

Unfortunately, as with a lot of information on the Dashboard, you can see this info, but you can't do much with it from here. On the Play Store, you can choose to hide certain devices in your settings, but they will all still show up here. Moreover, you can see which apps choose to create backups on Google's servers, but  you can't restore any of them via this console.

It's also unclear what constitutes a "backup". The list of apps that have backups, even on my most-used devices, are pretty sparse. My phone and Nexus 7, my two primary devices right now, have no more than 7 backups listed. Of those, the overwhelming majority of them are from Google. Either virtually no developers choose to use Google to sync/backup app data, or these app backups are for a very specific function. Without knowing what, exactly, qualifies as a "backup" it's a little difficult to know how useful this info is. Still, at least this info has been added to the Dashboard where it belongs.

Source: Reddit

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Sorian

    Doesn't appear to like all devices, my phone (Samsung Moment) is not listed in dashboard.

    • Francis

      My SGS2 isn't there either :(

      • Bogdan Sladaru

        Both my old Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note appear there.
        If you have more than 1 profile on the device, maybe it's listed under a different username.
        Also, if you disabled the backup service, I suppose it won't appear there. On my Note (with ICS) the option is in System settings/Back up and reset, you have to check "Back up my data" and "Automatic restore". Here you can also select the account used for backup.
        Anyway, it's not very useful because there are almost no applications that use this service (the only non-Google apps with backups for me are Battery Indicator Pro and SMS Backup +).

        • Francis

          Yeah I have backup enabled, I checked the right account. Would having a custom ROM (CM9) make a difference? I don't see why it would.

          Edit: Nevermind, for some reason it's showing up on my secondary google account... Odd...

    • Santoso Wijaya

      My Galaxy NEXUS and NEXUS 7 both are not listed there, either...

  • Bogdan Sladaru

    That info is there for a while, it's not something new.
    The backup service is a very good thing, unfortunately almost no developer uses it. If they did, we wouldn't need root and Titanium Backup... the app just does a data backup on the Google servers and when we reinstall it, the data is restored from the server (something similar to what Steam does with the saves for most games).
    https://developers.google.com/android/backup/

    • D4niel

      Precisely. That API is actually why it's "unclear what constitutes a 'backup'", since that's up to the app developer.

      • Bogdan Sladaru

        I don't find it unclear at all. Backup means whatever the application developer wants (more here
        http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/data/backup.html, the most relevant part is "Your backup agent is called by the Backup Manager to provide the data you want to back up. It is also called to restore your backup data when the application is re-installed.).
        For example, for a game they can backup the saves and when you reinstall the game you'll get the old saves.

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      Google should just give up convincing developer to use it and let the user backup and restore all app data manually. I always feel bad when I recommend an Android phone to friends when they wants to upgrade because I know they aren't root, and they will lose almost everything.

      • Bogdan Sladaru

        Yes, I still hope for a system application that allows you to backup your data. I don't mind if they choose to encrypt it, to avoid tampering. I just want to be able to backup my data without rooting (well, I would still root my devices for DroidWall, but that's another story).
        And you shouldn't feel bad. If you recommend an iPhone instead of Android, they would be even more limited. So you're doing them a favor :)

        • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

          Well, they are non-technical savvy people, and they don't care about Android or iOS. To them, the iPhone is always the obvious choice. Many of them are stuck with Android because iPhone wasn't available when they got their first smart phone. Now, of course, they want to switch. Can you imagine how much easier to convince them to stay with Android if they can port all their app settings and game saves to their new phone? But now, the barrier for them to switch to the iOS and stick with Android is almost the same, with Android having a slight advantage because their contact and apps will be carried over, but that's about all they could get.

      • Marcus Ong

        Google should enforce standards for app developers to follow one way or another.
        Enforce them using the backup system.

        There needs to be quality standards.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, the dashboard entry may have been there for a while but this is more of a PSA that look, this data is available if you didn't know. Because somehow I didn't, but was always wondering.

  • http://twitter.com/Xeratun Xeratun

    I've had the Android Devices section for a while, but it's always said (and still does) "Nothing interesting here."

    • Colin Richardson

      Same

      • JG

        Ditto... You'd think it'd at least list the devices...I was so excited when the delivery man finally brought my 7 to me... For Google to say "Nothing interesting here"... PSH! They're obviously not geeks getting shiny new toys!

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    >> Either virtually no developers choose to use Google to sync/backup app data

    That's why. When's the last time you see your app data get restored automatically after you flash a new ROM? I never seen it. You know what, this is beyond unacceptable because if you upgrade to a new phone today and you are not root, you have absolutely no way to back up your game saves if your games' developers do not save it somewhere else.

    • Simon Belmont

      You never see it because not many apps use that feature. Only a few, that I've seen, actually use it.

      The developer has to write the code to take advantage of that service. It would be nice if more did.

      • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

        I know the developers have to write the code to use that service, but clearly they are NOT interested in using it, and Google still seems to believe they WILL. It's like the situation of Google Wallet. Google just shuts the door and pretend the situation will get better over times, but in fact it won't. It's time for Google to give up and find another way to let us -- the users -- migrate our app data.

  • mgamerz

    Mine says "nothing interesting here", but I have it set to do backups, and it does sync my wifi passwords...

  • Simon Belmont

    The backup is just data, it's not the whole app per se. Any app can actually store backup data in the "cloud" on Google's servers.

    This data gets restored if you sign back into a device with your Google account after a factory reset. Pretty nice feature.

  • http://twitter.com/keithketover Keith Ketover

    I wish they'd just give us the ability to delete a device from the dashboard/Play Store.

  • GazaIan

    Never knew this. Time to check it out!

  • GazaIan

    "Android Devices: Nothing interesting here."

    I have two Android Phones and a Galaxy Tab 10.1 : my iOS devices seem to show up in other areas, why does it hate my Android phones?

  • GazaIan

    Okay, a lot of the Dashboard info is drastically fucked up.

    Installed apps from Google Play (which, funnily enough, is marked as a services not yet supported in Dashboard): 115. I have well over 500.

    Cloud Printers: 33. WTF? I only have 2 printers in my house, one which is broken, plus Microsoft OneNote for those times I'm too lazy to print shit out. Where the hell did 33 come from?

  • http://androidtaskforce.com/ Chris Gustafson

    Still wish I could delete old devices from here, and the Play Store.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    I think many roms don't run the backup service correctly. Of 4 listed devices, my Nexus 7 has a full list (7 items), and the most recent CM9 flash onto my GTab-10.1 has a mostly full list. The older CM9 flash of my GTab-10.1 and my phone (currently running an AOSP-ish ICS rom) are completely empty. I suspect this indicates that the roms themselves aren't properly instituting the Backup Service, which might explain why so many people don't have anything listed.

    I'd like to add, if you read the details of how the Android Backup Service operates and how it can be used, it's no wonder that most developers aren't using it. If there's a problem with performing a backup, to quote the documentation, "your application will work normally, but will either back up data using a different backup transport or not perform backup at all. Either way, your application is unaware of what transport is used, if at all, and functions normally", which is made worse when you read, "You cannot read or write backup data on demand..." None of this is as bad as it sounds, and it sorta falsely indicates that developers can't know about a backup/restore, but it doesn't really make for a highly usable system. It's also worth pointing out, it appears that there's no way to control or even get indications as to which devices may have stored data/configurations, so changing settings on one app on a phone might cause the same changes to occur for the same app on your tablet, even if that wouldn't make sense... Obviously, this can be a good thing too, but a lack of control prevents it from being entirely logical. Since you don't have precise control over when backups occur, you can't entirely know that they will occur, and you're never entirely sure where the data is coming from and if the backup data is even the most recent data (if using more than one device), this usually isn't suitable for a lot of apps. It isn't good for saved games (though, settings might be candidates for backup), it's not good for regularly changing data (like evernote/dropbox), and it's not good for configurations and credentials that shouldn't absolutely traverse devices, versions, and factory resets. I'm going to guess 95% of apps aren't suitable for this service, and the remaining apps have other alternatives like Dropbox and Google Drive which would work better.

  • UtkuBad

    I'm using a new app called gcloud backup that backs up to amazon S3 which i guess it's much secure to keep my data there. so i stopped syncing my data specially photos with my google account