Though we just finished up our rumor recap for pre-I/O leaks and rumors, we've received information regarding Google's plans for the Play Store suggesting that Google may be building cross-device app restoration into the store's Android app.


Information is sparse so far, but from what's available to us, it appears that Google may be working on new functionality to restore apps and "data" to a new device, based on the data accrued on another device. Right now, the initial setup process for an Android device includes a "backup & restore" option that, try as it might, remains vague on exactly what the user will get. The option (which only appears during initial setup) promises data backup and restoration, but takes sort of an all-or-nothing approach to app restoration, where tons of apps - generally including some you don't want - start an immediate restoration.


The new restoration process will apparently be part of the Play Store app itself, and would allow users to choose from a list of backups from their other devices, so if you're setting up the Play Store on a new (or freshly wiped) phone, you could choose to restore a backup from a phone, thereby restoring all your phone-specific apps and eschewing the apps you use only on tablets or other devices. Our information also indicates there may be an option to add on individual apps to the backup you choose.

What isn't clear right now is exactly what is meant by data. Of course restoring actual app data between devices would be a boon for Android users, but it's just as likely that the new feature is using "data" in the same vague way as the current setup process.

The feature appears to be early in development, so we may not see it debut immediately (if I had to speculate I'd guess it's being built out for the actual L release), but the functionality would be a very welcome departure from the current restoration behavior, which lacks the clarity and control this new feature seems to promise.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    FINALLY!......and please fix the automatic downloading of ALL the apps from the previous device......while I'm not on WIFI. Instant data killer if you're not paying attention

    • tekfr33kn

      This also holds true if you are doing a factory reset or flashing a ROM. 9/10 times, I want to get my apps and data from TiBU first before I get an "Update" but instead it's a mad rush to put the phone in airplane mode as quickly as possible to stop the immediate download after signing in.

      • Mlibbey

        Jesus I thought I was alone!

        • tekfr33kn

          Not by a long shot.

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Uh, simply remember to always uncheck the "backup / restore" checkbox during initial phone setup, and then there is no mad rush to stop it from restoring.

        That's how I've done it for years without issue. (And, if you then WANT to have your stuff backed up (even if you never restore outside of TiBu), just enable it in settings post-setup)

        • tekfr33kn

          True. I guess it's just an old habit of mine to leave defaults on from before the backup feature was even part of the OS.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        So... Why don't you login after the TB restore is done?

        • tekfr33kn

          After flashing a new ROM, you have to sign in to your account by default as part of the initial setup. I've tried to skip past this part but it always reverts to the sign in screen. Google REALLY wants you back.

      • DannyBiker

        Just don't add your google account in the first set up. Add it later in the settings and it won't restore the apps.

        • tekfr33kn

          When flashing a stock ROM on my Nexus 5, I've tried skipping the sign in. The set up essentially won't let me go any further. When I had a Note 2, I could skip it. I understand what you mean but the set up isn't consistent across phones.

  • mgamerz

    I think they should additionally make it more obvious that you need to scroll on the setup pages to see all checkboxes and text. Judging from your picture they have done that to some degree. I've 'kept up to date with Google Play offers' far too many times thanks to not knowing I was supposed to scroll down to uncheck it.

    • jab416171

      If you'll notice, the arrow is pointing down, which indicates the user should scroll down. Additionally, when you click on the button, it will scroll down for you, and turn into a "Next" button.

  • BoFiS

    Seriously! This has been a long time coming. Titanium Backup is always the first apk I install on any new phone just so I can then restore every app/data I want.

    • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

      As you and I will likely continue to do - this won't replace TiBU in any stretch of the imagination

      • Fatty Bunter

        You don't know that. Maybe Google is also working on Drive backup for each app so that you can choose which apps to restore, or even create a master restore "device".

        TL;DR way too early to say that

        • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

          Seeing as how google is releasing half assed products, one after the another since almost a year now, I'm not very optimistic.

          • Carolyn Joseph


            ✒✒✒ ✒�✒✒ ✒✒✒ ✒✒✒ �✒✒✒

        • https://twitter.com/KryptosXLayer2 KryptosXLayer2

          Yes, actually, yes I do.... The amount of features TiBU has compared to anything Google will come out with as a simple restoration app is overwhelming, for example: I'll bet you every Android device I own (4 flagships) that it won't have the option to freeze installed apps, which is only one of a dozen features guaranteed Google won't have in their iteration

          • Cerberus_tm

            Not to mention backing up different versions of the APK and of your app data.

        • abobobilly

          I'll favor "on device" (or on PC, rather) backup option over a 'Cloud Backup' anyday. Even if Google does release a Drive backup solution, i would still prefer Titanium Backup over it.

        • Mike

          God I hope so, something like iOS's backup/restore functionality is one of the things I would most want to have on Android.

    • polesmoker99


    • supremekizzle

      Except titanium backup is confusing as shit and hard to use. Plus, the ui is horrendous. Google will do it right.

      • Spasillium

        Titanium Backup is not hard to use. A bit confusing at first, yeah. If you want to see a hard and confusing but VERY useful app, try Tasker.

        • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

          Material Titanium Backup. I want to believe.

          • Shane MacPhee

            once they finish the gingerbread UI update, they'll look into material design.

          • grumpyfuzz

            once they finish gingerbread, they'll look into holo :P

          • laurakfalconer

            as Thelma
            explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
            on the internet . more info here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

      • NinoBr0wn

        You're sure as hell right about that UI. I don't know why it hasn't been improved in all this time. It looks like qbasic.

      • ghj

        True. I used Titanium once to backup data and apk of Frozen Free Fall as a test. It restored the apk but not the data. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed that I had to restart from level 1. Found Mybackup Root, backed up and restored data and apks without issues. Way easier to use than Titanium and it actually works and it's free.

    • Andreas Andreas

      Yeah, kinda. Titanium is great when you're restoring to the exact same ROM you used before. When I flashed a new ROM and tried restoring apps they all just stopped working.. Android really sucks concerning all that fragmentation.

    • numpty

      Yep. I'm sure even Apple haters would agree, this is one thing they've got right on their mobile devices from day one. You can have your new device up and running exactly like your old one in minutes (or a bit longer, if you restore from iCloud rather than iTunes).

      • Mobeen Ahmad

        Apple fan boys just praise works of apple inc. they don't even appreciate google or android....hate them...shitttiiie people...-___-

  • brkshr

    That would be nice! I have a ton of games and video apps on my tablet that I don't want installed on my phones. So I can't auto-restore apps on my phones.

    • TomsDisqusted

      Very true. But they also need to make it more reliable. I find that if my app restore gets interrupted it won't restart.

  • Zak Taccardi

    Yes please! One of the best parts about ChromeOS is how data is always kept in sync. Logging into one device is as seamless as logging into another. Please bring this to Android!

    • Dhaiwat

      That goes for the chrome browser in general

    • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

      Is it? I mean, last time I checked there was no extension settings backup in Chrome.

      • Dhaiwat

        Extension settings are not synced but all your form data, bookmarks, the extensions themselves and a slew of other things are all useful. I guess it would be useful for extension settings to sync.

        • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

          I thought Chrome OS had it already. Ouch =/

          • Dhaiwat

            Don't quote me on that, I haven't used a Chromebook in a very long time! If anyone could kindly confirm this it would be nice?.

  • Omkar Dani

    Yesterday i installed slimkat in my old defy and it restored every app i had on my defy

    • Amit_N

      Sure .. that works now also but this article is about "to restore apps and "data" to a new device"

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

      This is how it already works, but a) it only works during initial setup b) you can't select which apps to restore - it's all or nothing c) it's highly unreliable, d) you can't select the device to restore apps from.

      So yeah, it totally sucks right now.

      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

        After a fresh ROM install, the Android device gets a new device ID which kind of screws up what devices shows up in your play store device list. Hence I like to "restore previous device ID" using TiBu. But app restore has already started via stock Android and if I stop it to restore device ID, android goes "Sorry I annoyed you with my attempt to fix your phone" and never offers to restore again.

  • moelsen8


  • jonathan3579

    This is much needed. Besides, their backups have never restored Wi-Fi passwords to any of my new devices. The only devices that have come remotely close to fully restoring is HTC and LG devices with their own backup services. Seriously Google, get on this.

    • CoreRooted

      WiFi passwords (or other passwords) should never be restored, IMHO. Honestly, I'd rather my passwords not be stored in the cloud.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
      • jonathan3579

        Personally, I like my passwords to be backed up because of the amount of times I change devices in a year. Having to go back and look up or ask for passwords every time I change my device is a huge inconvenience. It's just a pet peeve of mine that Google says they back all these things up and the only thing that happens is what was mentioned below - Apps download as soon as you login to your Google account.

        • CoreRooted

          My workaround has been having my WiFi passwords on NFC tags. That way, I don't have to remember them (aside from when updating them and then forgetting to update the tag). I have 3 tags that I carry on my keyring for when I'm out at a friend's place (or side job or whatever). What's nice is that only the password is on the tag and not the SSID or location, so I consider it to be fairly secure even if I lose my keys (might have happened once, or 20 times).

          • jonathan3579

            I actually have a couple NFC tags that I never used. I think I'll have to give that a try.

          • blakeleeper

            Any place you recommend getting NFC tags, and a way to write them?

          • CoreRooted

            I buy mine from Amazon usually. Last batch I bought was 10 tags + 1 keychain fob/tag for $24.

            As for a writer, there are a TON of apps out there. My preferred is Trigger.

    • tekfr33kn

      It's restored on my Nexus devices but it can be hit or miss which ones get restored. I'm with CoreRooted, I'd rather not have my WiFi passwords stored in the cloud. At least if I have them backed up with TiBU, I can locally encrypt the backup.

  • Rick Fisher

    I sure hope this is true. I have to uncheck that box every time I flash my phone or buy a new one. It's just too risky, otherwise my phone just ends up a mess of applications of years past.

  • Arcest

    It won't be the final solution. There are apps that aren't backed up at all, depending on app's policies. Furthermore, you can't individually select apps. Imagine you want to restore 7 GB of apps+data on a 4GB only device. What will happen? It's basically the same problems you have with adb backup. It will be still 3 or 4 years until Google can truly replace Titanium Backup.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Uh, you can't restore 7gb of data on a 4gb device because you can't possibly have that much data on it due to memory capacity. Meaning that if I reset my Nexus 4 and then Nexus 7 - when I login into the Google account into either of them - the Play Store will download only the apps that were installed on the specific device prior to wiping, so your comment makes no sense

      • Arcest

        It is intended to work between different devices

  • http://www.greeceandroid.gr/ John D

    backup apks and data to PC:
    adb backup -apk -shared -all
    restore them:
    adb restore backup.ab

    • KERR

      Brilliant! FYI to do this:
      Download the Android SDK and extract on a PC

      Enable Developer Options on your device
      Enable USB Debugging under Developer options on your device
      Plug in device and open command prompt
      Navigate via CMD to the path that has "adb.exe" from the SDK

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Backups and restoration wouldn't be such a pain in the ass if Google made an iTunes-like desktop utility to easily manage and keep the data in between resets/reflashes. But honestly at this point ANYTHING would be better than the current setup of "App Data" backup that does god knows what and how, and the classic "login - connect to WiFi - download all your 200 apps in one shot" scenario one may face upon setting up the device after wiping it

  • duke69111

    Backing up and restoring the actual data from the apps would be awesome. Lets hope thats it. Relying on the individual app developers to include a backup option is just not working and its a pain in the ass to use the individual options. Yes, there' TiBu, but not for non root users.

  • Zyre

    It would be nice if we had the option to download your apps yes or no. I hate it when my phone syncs and suddenly has the urge to download all those apps again.

    nvm, I read the article again. Finally Google...

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Every time I set up a new iPhone for my client, and use their backup and restore system to put the new phone in the exact state as the old one, I sigh a little, and think of what Android could be like if Google embraced their approach to the same basic concept. All the components are available. Just backup our data for our apps accurately, and more general device settings, accounts, etc., and then when I set up a new phone and log in, restore it all. The best part is they can use LESS data to do it as they don't need to backup the apps, just the data. Restore the apps from the store, data from wherever they keep that, and I can have a new phone running everything I care about from my chosen device in a snap.

    • br_hermon

      iPhones utilize cloud backup now, right, as apposed to localized backups via iTunes? The reason I ask is because I'm wondering about the resources necessary to make cloud backup work for that type of procedure and about the inevitable outcry of privacy concerns users will have. Cloud is great but localized demands less resources and provides greater privacy concern.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        iCloud is an option for backups, although they give you only 5GB for free, which isn't enough for most iPhones.

        And yes, I imagine local has a slightly better security profile, but it's far less convenient. Especially for Android users who are used to never having to touch their computers to manage their phones. I basically never plug mine into my computer.

  • Dakota

    Android needs a way for me not to lose my app history, esp games with completed levels, high scores etc. Play Services I think is supposed to do it but most developers still aren't using it

    • jab416171

      Google shouldn't be responsible for backing up an application's data, especially if that data is device or install specific or the developer doesn't want it to be backed up (like authenticator apps).

      • http://revanmj.pl/ Michał Jakubowski

        Yea, but when developer has to implement it user don't have any idea what will be backed up and what won't be (there is no information on app page or in settings about that). Also, user might to backup some info (like Auth apps data) either way so there should be option to force it. Only device specific data (like its IDs, etc.) shouldn't be in the backup.

  • Stranger from a Far Coast

    Is it only me or do people don't know that other than Titanium Backup, you can use app like ES File Explorer to backup your user apps + data and the fact that ES is free?

  • http://www.daverobertson.me Dave Robertson

    So, so, so overdue. I absolutely hate having to go into each and every app and tick box X and tap button Y to get everything set up the way I want it every time I get a new phone. It's especially frustrating with Facebook Messenger which has a whole laundry list of options that I have to disable because I don't want the app to take over my phone. Pulse used to be really bad, requiring 6 or 7 steps to sign in with your Pulse username (not LinkedIn or other) but that's thankfully a bit better now.

    • br_hermon

      This is one reason why I still think rooting is incredibly valuable. Stopping the restoration in Google Play and restoring instead from TiBu is a huge time saver. Looks like this has the potential to dramatically improve in that way.