Important files will be gone in February 2024 when Google removes them from Files for Android
Files is the default file manager on many Android devices. Last year, the company launched a new feature that added an Important tab to the application. Limited to India, it scanned the device for important documents and put them all in the Important section of the Files app.
When selected for the first time, Files would scan the entire device for important documents. This included official documents like IDs, passports or drivers licenses. The new feature supported the DigiLocker service of the Indian government, which aims to transform India into a digital society. DigiLocker, at its core, is a platform for the digital issuance and verification of documents and certificates.
Google announced the feature last year on its Google India Blog. Google announced a partnership with the National eGovernance Division to "enable people with easy access to their authentic digital documents, directly from the Files by Google app on Android".
The feature to scan the device for official documents was announced in the blog post as well. Google noted back then that discovered documents would be put in "an isolated environment" on the device and that they could only be accessed after authentication.
Google used a "custom AI model" to scan and identify documents on the device. The technology uses OCR and machine learning to identify official documents, with all of that happening locally on the device. Google noted that the data can't be accessed by anyone except the owner.
Recent updates introduce a notice that inform users of the upcoming deprecation of the feature. Google writes: "The Important tab on Files will no longer be available from 15 February 2024. Your saved documents in the Important tab will be permanently deleted from Files after this date."
Google is also sending out notifications to Files users to make sure that they know about the change.
Particularly worrying for users is that Google plans to delete any file that is inside the Important tab by February 15, 2024. Users who don't want to lose access to these files need to move them before the shutdown data.
Google recommends using the share feature to save a copy of the documents elsewhere.
Google seemed to have plans to roll out the Important tab to other regions. The announcement from last year states that users "see this functionality first in the Files by Google App on Android smartphones in India".
It is unclear why Google is terminating the feature again. The company could have based the decision on use numbers, but this guess is as good as any other.
If you are from India and use the Important section of the Files by Google app, you may want to save the documents to other locations on the device if you still require them.
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