Aug 06 AT 3:49 PM Dustin Earley 31 Comments

Key Lime Pie wish-list: a real backup solution


With Key Lime Pie, Android 5.0, right around the corner, everyone with an Internet connection is laying out what they hope to see in the next big update to hit Android. I have my own wants for Key Lime Pie, like a final solution to Android’s terrible backup situation.

Every time I bring this up, I hear the same thing over and over again.

“Android has a backup function built-in! When you sign into your Google account, all your apps download, and your wallpaper is there. And there’s Picasa. And there’s Play Music. And there’s Google contacts. If that’s not good enough, use a third-party app. Or root and use an even more in-depth third-party app.”

I love and greatly appreciate what third-party developers have done for Android, and the problems they’ve come up with solutions for. But there are still areas where Google needs to step up. The backup and restore functions already available in Android are shoddy at best. Picture syncing is great, but app data is absent. My setting usually load correctly, now where are my text messages and call history?

There are times when I hate to compare Android to iOS, but there’s too much Google could learn from Apple in this instance. If you’ve never used the backup and restore function in iOS, you don’t know what you’re missing. Just like with Android, when you boot up a fresh iOS device or new install, you’re prompted to sign into some accounts, and asked whether or not you want to sync and backup your phone with Apple’s servers. If you choose yes, and restore a previous backup, everything, and I do mean everything, is ready to go within a relatively short time.

What kind of stuff is restored after using an iOS backup? Game progress, app installs, emails, text messages, account sign-ins, pictures, settings and much more. As I touched on earlier, Google has a solution to backup some of these things, but they still aren’t as easy and fluid as they should be. Motorola, who is owned by Google, has released their own migration assistant service because Google’s solution doesn’t cover all the bases.

You already get a set amount of storage with Google Drive when you sign up for a Google account. Throw a big backup file on there, and use things like Play Music and Picasa to sync across devices. That’s what they’re best at.

When Key Lime Pie is released this fall, I hope Google unveils a comprehensive backup and restore utility. I’d love to get a new Nexus phone, and after a few prompts, have it set up just the way I like it. That’s the first item on my Key Lime Pie wish-list. Now, on to item number two…

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Steven

    I agree with you, and along with the lack of any support from Google/Android, this could be a major reason to leave Android once and for all. Ive had to switch phones 2x now because of a faulty device. Ive been so pissed when I reload. Big deal your contacts come back up. Ive NEVER had my apps reload but the worst part as you said, is that I lost all my progress from all my apps. If there were apps where I had notes or reminders, unless they had you sign into an account, all that data was lost. Games were the worst. I lost all my high scores, all my progress (ie if you completed 100 levels, that all was wiped out and you were back to level 1), I lost any powerups or bonus levels I had earned. Basically, all my time with the games were lost. One puzzle that takes a few seconds to play per level, I was on level 2000+ and lost all of that. It was the most frustrating thing ever – and no one could give me a solution. PIctures, folders, nothing came back. I had to manually figure out how to save everything, create folders for photos and videos on my computer and then manually transfer it to my phone. I told friends with iPhones and they were shocked…They said they get a new iPHone, back everything up to iTunes, and waala, within seconds theyre ready to go – no problems. I also had to manually write where everything was on my phone screens, what folders I had and which apps were in them. It was a nightmare. Which is why whenever theres a phone problem and people say just do a factory reset, I say no way…I rather get a brand new phone.
    And Im tired of people who say just root your phone. The average person doesnt know how to do that or know what it means. They dont want to void warranties..And if the best solution you have for an Operating System is to root it, something is wrong. Android should work. Period. And the problem is it doesnt. I always wonder when people are saying they switch phones all the time, how do they do it. They must not have games or apps where they lose all their information. If I have a game where I completed 20 levels and earned powerups, I have no desire to play them all again so I just stop using it. Luckily, I usually dont pay for apps.

    Google says the game thing is supposed to get better with new Google Play Services. I havent tested that ant iseems most apps still dont use it

    • someone

      Use helium (aka Carbon). Does a full backup to Desktop or to another Android device.

      • SGB101

        Thanks use carbon, backup my real racing 3 each night. Can’t be to careful.

        As to android backup/restore, it’s okay but it’s an all or nothing solution, I have a boat full of devices, and don’t want them all the same. Plus my young kids share my username for games and music, but obviously don’t need my calander and email etc.

  • Anthony

    One thing I’d like to see is emoticons for messaging like the ones on Google+ Hangouts.

  • jamal adam

    I definitely think that Google needs to step it up on this front, I mean it’s great that we have 3rd party sources making great backup apps but it’s essential that Google itself have one that is robust and works fluidly and backs up everything.

    • kazahani

      There is no backup app on the Play Store that I know of that will back up your app data without root. This is a BIG problem, as most android users don’t even know what root is.

      • Bpear96

        Helium on Play Store can backup app data without root. Require android 4.0 and up though

        Google actually added native backup and restore support to android 4.0 but its currently not user friendly , but they code is there (you can use it with adb backup, then adb restore) Helium takes advantage of these code and makes it more user friendly.

        • Jakob

          Helium changed name to Carbon though. :-)

        • kazahani

          Let me make sure we understand each other: Helium backup will save my Candy Crush progress when I switch phones????

          TELL ME IT IS SO.

          • kazahani

            I just read about the app on the Play Store, and it looks like this does EXACTLY what I need it to. Thank you guys so much this is awesome!

  • Arthur

    The built in backup comprehensive backup solution is a no-brainer and should have been instilled from the very first version of Android. I would also love to have a double-tap to unlock type of feature. My Nokia N9 has this running stock Meego Harmattan and I greatly miss it, practically it makes so much more sense than have to always press a power button.

    I wouldn’t mind if Google implemented more gesture controls throughout the system instead of a slider control here, use the volume rocker there. I appreciate the gestures used with the latest notification bar pull down and the options that are available with email checking, deleting and other actions via the pull down notifications.

  • surethom

    Android backup is terrible, the last 2 android phone I bought, I signed into everything but Not 1 of my paid & unpaid apps downloaded automatically, I had to download Every flipping one of them manually. Very poor

  • Brian P.

    I disagree with you regarding iOS having a great backup solution. 8 months ago I switched to iPhone 5 and I absolutely HATE iTunes. Plus the backup to cloud is only useful if you have NOTHING on your phone or you pay for more space on iCloud.

    Otherwise you have to backup to a computer which is horrible with iTunes. Also backups are essentially all or nothing. You cannot backup your text message for instanance unless you backup everything up. You can’t restore just text messages unless you restore everything.

    iPhones have a major corruption issue that occurs that cause you to lose space on the device. Only way to regain the space is to do a fresh wipe of the phone. So when you have to do that, you have no way of restoring your text messages. Pretty lame if you ask me.

    My wife has lost 16gb of space of her 32gb iPhone.

    iPhone has some nice things, but iTunes is the worst product I have ever used. Don’t even get started me on their sync over wifi bs too.

    Android may not a great built back up solution, but the 3rd party stuff makes backing up your phone pretty darn easy. I was able to flash a new ROM my android on the fly in the middle of no where and restore ALL my stuff that I wanted.

    Can’t say the same for an iPhone.

    This is an opinion of a fan boy of neither phone. There are great things about both OSes, but by no means is iPhone superior to Android in backup solution. A combo of both methods would be the ideal solution.

  • pjamies

    Ok, So Backup/Restore is number 1 on your list!!
    What else would you like to see?? (as this is becoming a BKUP/Restore Rant …)

    Better Camera tools
    Better Voice automation
    OS/Hardware Baked Lost Phone finder
    Better Battery saving techniques
    Better Multi-Core processor support, for Core apps (API’s for developers)
    Dual Mode support (Business/Personal)
    Etc .. Etc ..

    (Some of this is probably is already in place … Just throwing it out there ..)

    • Graham Steffaniak

      dual mode, thats a good point.

  • thatsNotMyName

    I will get criticized by this but whatever. Key lime pie needs a complete UI overhaul. I have never been a fan of the UI’s in any version of Android. I love skins, as buggy and laggy it may be I love them. I hope they offer competitive features as those offered by HTC and Samsung.

  • JonJJon

    I agree it would be good to have a much more robust and comprehensive backup and restore system. I also hope KLP brings nicely updated system apps with tweaked UI and functionality such as the email app; bring the same sort of features the gmail app has like the notification quick actions. A going over of the quick toggles pane would be good too, still inconsistencies going on there.

  • CTown

    Android does have a backup solution for data; it’s called “adb backup”. Helium by Koushkik Dutta (of ClockworkMod) makes extensive use of it. If you use Helium you don’t need root (as long as you have the desktop app). Also, one can always use Super Backup (without a need for giving it root permissions) for everything else. Though, since I have root I use Super Backup for app backups.

    Super Backup:

  • dbareis

    I only use root for a few things (backup the main purpose), I should not have to root to do that reliably.

  • Graham Steffaniak

    Critical needs:
    1) backup solution as mentioned.
    2) splitscreen apps, make use of androids flexability
    3) gesture controls (three finger swipe down to hide on-screen buttons!!)
    4) A light theme that matches all the new apps (play store, music, books, etc)
    5) get rid of the tradition app drawer and make it the same as all the other google apps by using the side swipe in menu to see apps. (kinda like action launcher)

    if android 5.0 only added those 5 featuers I would be happy.

    • SGB101

      Having a note2 I can promise you split screen apps don’t work, not enough to space in reality. My wife got the s3 update and it was even worse.

  • boone simpson

    I have been saying that a First Party Google built desktop sync app (perhaps a chrome extension) w/backup is needed, not just to make things awesome, but to make the transition from IOS to Android make more sense for the avg joe consumer.

    You could sync items to the phone via USB, Wifi, or through the relevant cloud service (music, picasa, g+, etc.)

    I do think some items like app data sync and game sync are great starts, but it is up to the individual app to support those items.

    It is not unified, and it really needs to be.

    Now snappea and other 3rd party solutions exist, but your avg soccer mom doesn’t want to have to lurk XDA to use her fancy new phone, she wants it to work well Day 1.

  • kazahani

    OMG that pie looks so frikking delicious…

  • donger

    Want a piece of key lime pie.

  • jenskristian

    I couldn’t agree more. The day Google launch a real backup solution is the day I no longer have to have root. When switching to a new device or factory reseting my current one here is how I do it.

    1. Backup contacts with Google Contacts.
    2. Backup SMS with SMS Backup & Restore by Ritesh Sahu.
    3. Backup all apps with Titanium Backup.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to have root access to be able to backup the game progress of your games.

    • Jakob

      Helium. HELIUM! No root needed, all of the above features enabled. The ADB-backup function added in Android 4.0+ is required though.

  • Peter Frandsen

    Totally agree that Android need a better bacup/restore solution. Spot on.
    It seem like we are finally getting an official find my Android service in a few weeks – that has been long time missing too.

  • Mil

    I agree, a full backup solution is long overdue. It would need to be device specific because the apps and configuration I have with one device may be different to another. Most things should restore, except for some applications which are not compatible with the device being restored too. I would expect this list of applications to be reported to the user at the end of the process so they are at least aware of this issue. Perhaps at least keeping the application data so that if the application does become available at some future date, it can use that previous application data to restore from.

  • Liz

    I would love to be able to assign contact specific tones/music to be used for text messages so that I can tell without having to pick up my phone if the message is from my husband, child, boss or other important person without having to use a 3rd party app that uses up space and memory on my phone.

    For entertainment purposes I follow lots of people, businesses, etc on twitter so I get TONS of Twitter text messages. Those typically don’t require immediate attention. But something from my husband, mom, child, boss, etc might.

    The Windows phone I had many years ago had this functionality for text messages. Why iPhones and Android phones don’t is beyond me.

  • inviolable

    So what does App Data sync in Android 4.3 do?

  • Copeland Lee (@copelandlee08)

    For android users, there is a tool to backup and restore games progress. you can restore the backup files to any android devices