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On Monday, January 18th, 2016, on a never-network-locked-or-branded Nexus 5, I've noticed that the Google Chrome app was suddenly updated, together with the user-installed "My Cricket" and one other app (possibly Visual Voicemail?), after doing an intended manual update of some unrelated app. In all, 4 apps were updated, when only one was intended to be.

I've uninstalled the Google Chrome updates (which also resulted in the data-loss of the browser history and the open windows), but wasn't able to restore My Cricket to any prior version, since, being user-installed from the Play Store, there's no option to go back.

Today, Wednesday, 20th, the Google Chrome app was force updated again. I've confirmed that its individual settings are not set to autoupdating, nor are the global settings set to apply the updates. Moreover, one of the top reviews for Google Chrome was a 2-star one, dated 19.01.2016, also alleging a forced autoupdate!

  • How do I really disable the updates? Like, for real, no exceptions?

  • Is there a way to see for sure which exact apps were updated? E.g., what was that forth app that I allege must be the "Visual Voicemail" one? (Only the first three apps were visible in the status in the notification bar, but it was mentioned that 4 updates were performed.)

  • Is there a way to backup my browser history and the open-windows, to prevent losing it all when uninstalling the unsanctioned update?

  • Is there a way to backup all my apps?

Please kindly note that a user-mistake is highly unlikely -- it happened twice, and was also reported by a highly-voted review in the Play Store. Also note that the phone has been disconnected from Cricket many months ago; it's only used through WiFi; so, any sort of network interference is likewise a quite remote possibility (it still has the SIM, though, but it hasn't registered to any network in a very long time now, always showing no reception in the top status bar).

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This is not a complete answer but answers some of the points:

  • How do I really disable the updates? Like, for real, no exceptions?

    You can use my answer or Craig's answer for that. No exceptions, but requires root access. The solution is to detach Google Chrome from Play Store's device specific database stored in the device itself. It is always temporary but works.

  • Is there a way to see for sure which exact apps were updated?

    Play Store shows a notification for each app that has been updated. If it doesn't then record the details of broadcasted intent: android.intent.action.PACKAGE_REPLACED. Use my answer here to get details from that intent. Use File write task to log the app or package name that has been updated with corresponding date and time, into a file using Task → File → Write File action.

    You can check the contents of the file at your convenience.

  • Is there a way to backup my browser history and the open-windows, to prevent losing it all when uninstalling the unsanctioned update?

    Absolutely yes, but not without root access. The reason is simple. Chrome doesn't participate in backup and restore infrastructure of device. This simply means adb can't backup the app's data and so as other user apps.

    The solution requires root access. You can use or My Backup Pro for ease of use to backup Chrome's data or simply force stop Chrome, copy the data directory of Chrome i.e. /data/data/com.android.chrome to a safe location. You can alternatively archive the directory before storing it, but why add complications? Restoration is as simple as backup.

  • Is there a way to backup all my apps?

    Sure. We've a canonical post here. Note that not every app can be backed up as noted in last point, so having root access is the only way to backup virtually everything, regardless whether the app permits backup and restore.

    Did I mention that making a nandroid backup is another coolest thing to do.

  • Using firewall or disabling Download Manager or restricting background data doesn't solve but evades the issue. Why? Because as soon as you let Play Store connect the Internet (be realistic, you will open it one day) it should issue updates to whatever it was itching to update for so long, which means forced updates to Chrome may begin. Disabling Download manager means giving up the ability to download any app and so as downloading anything from Chrome. Won't help much. Same problem will be there if you disable foreground data. Disabling background data disable auto-updates in background. – Firelord Jan 21 '16 at 9:00
  • so, disabling background data seems to have no applicability to wifi! wasn't it supposed to be applicable to wifi, too? how do i disable the Download Manager? – cnst Jan 23 '16 at 23:46
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That Google Chrome update is horrendous! It's being forced outside of Play Store, but there is a way to disable it.

It's pretty ugly, but here's how I stopped it, while keeping Play Services (Gmail, Maps, etc): Go into Application Manager, scroll over to the "All" tab, and find "Download manager". Once you disable that, there will be NO updates from anywhere.

Now, Play Store won't open all the way, asking you to turn Download manager back on. So when you need to use Play Store, go back into settings, find Chrome, disable it, then clear data on Download manager and also on Play Store. Then, you can update other apps without updating Chrome.

You also will need to use Firefox or Opera to download PDFs and other files online.

Hope this helps,

  • thanks for the suggestions! was it not enough to disable the foreground data on Play? – cnst Jan 20 '16 at 22:31
  • Well if you have root, you can use Droidwall to block data through the Google Play app. If you're lucky that may stop these forced updates, but I haven't tried that method. Turning off Download manager is definitely the hardcore way to disable those updates, with no root needed. – Aaron Gillion Jan 20 '16 at 22:35
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    I think more people should post blogs about it, and write complaints to the FCC and the FTC. Clearly -- complaining within Google's owned wall garden is rather pointless in the end. It looks like this issue has been going on for several weeks already, according to productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/gLlJazwMkFs. Moreover, this is merely the most recent reincarnation -- they did the very same thing on the desktop -- people who followed the official instructions to disable the updates again started receiving the updates at a certain point all of a sudden! Been there! – cnst Jan 20 '16 at 23:03
  • Yeah, desktop Chrome (and Mozilla!) often push security updates, which is cool, until they decide to mess with the UI and menus, nobody wants that. There is a fine line to be drawn. At least we're not tied up in the chains of iOS! – Aaron Gillion Jan 20 '16 at 23:13

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