As Android games become more robust and in-depth, it’s becoming increasingly likely that we’ll want to be able to pick up our game progress between phones. This used to be a fiddly business, as you’d need to manually create backups of the game data, then restore it on the new device. But things have improved thanks to Google Cloud Saves.
Here we’ll show you how to seamlessly sync your game progress between Android phones using the cloud method as well as the more old-school manual method, should a given game not support cloud saves.
Move Game Progress via the Cloud
The first thing to note is that there is no universally implemented cloud-save system with Android games. Google Play Games has its own cloud-save method, but not all games utilize it. Nevertheless, it’s worth setting up in case your game does support it.
In order to sync your game progress between devices using Google Play Games, you’ll need to be signed into the same Google account on both devices. You don’t necessarily need to have the Google Play Games app installed, but this will give you more control over your cloud syncing (for example, by letting you select an option to automatically sign into Google Play Games as soon as you open a compatible game).
To make sure you have Play Games Cloud Save switched on, go to “Settings -> Accounts and Sync -> Google,” and make sure that the “Play Games Cloud Save” slider is switched on.
Most games (but not all) take advantage of Google Play Games’ cloud saves service. When looking at a game’s store page, look out for the green gamepad icon. This signifies that the game is set up to work with Google Play Games, which means there’s a chance it will use cloud saves.
Frustratingly, you won’t know whether a game cloud saves to Google Play Games until you play it, and many games have their own methods of cloud saves. (The Angry Birds series, for example, uses Google Play Games for achievements, but cloud-saves via Facebook, presumably to encourage you to share your progress on Facebook and spread the word.)
Whatever you do, though, if a game prompts you upon opening to sign into Google Play Games, you should go ahead with it. Then, once you’re logged in, you can look in that game’s individual settings to see whether it has Google Play cloud saves (or another cloud-save method, for that matter).
Manually Move Game Progress Between Android Phones
If the game in question doesn’t support cloud saves, then you may need to use an app that manually backs up your Android data. The best one for unrooted devices is Helium.
Download the Helium app (and the PC app that accompanies it), then connect your phone to your PC via a USB cable. Run both the Android version of Helium and the accompanying PC app for it to work.
Once you’ve done this and Helium is open, select all the games you want to back up in Helium, then tap “Backup.”
Selecting “Internal Storage” as a Backup Destination will back up the data to your SD card. (If you pay for the Premium version of Helium, you can back up your data to cloud storage instead.)
Once the backup is complete, insert your SD card into your new device, install and open Helium in the same way as before, then go to the “Restore and Sync” tab. Select “Internal Storage” to bring up the list of your backed-up games.
Select all the games you want to restore, tap “Restore,” then “Restore My Data,” and wait for the process to complete.
That should just about cover all bases for saving your game progress across devices. We wish it wasn’t as dependent on manual backups as it still is, but until more developers utilize Google’s cloud-back services, Helium makes for a handy backup backup app, as it were.