Jelly Bean dev options

You might have heard that Google tossed out the next version of Android yesterday, and Jelly Bean is now official. We're pouring through things to find what's new, what's good, and what's not. One thing we stumbled across got our attention, as it's an app permission and security related. We've said before that external storage on a mobile device, by it's very nature, is insecure. If you format it in a way that you can apply the standard permission model, Windows computers (well over 90-percent of the computer market) can't read from them. Up until now, the default has been the same as many other operating systems, and that is to let applications read what's stored on an SD card without anyone caring. This has lead to several sky-is-falling moments where people suddenly realized that the wide open model is, well, wide open. The best way to fix things is to simply do away with external storage and all it's security baggage, and Google has done that with their own devices as of late. But OEM's are going to do things differently, so in a "future release" applications will need explicit permission to read from external storage, much like they do for writing to storage now. Here's the relevant bit from G -- 

READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
Provides protected read access to external storage. In Android 4.1 by default all applications still have read access. This will be changed in a future release to require that applications explicitly request read access using this permission. If your application already requests write access, it will automatically get read access as well. There is a new developer option to turn on read access restriction, for developers to test their applications against how Android will behave in the future.

So when (if) your phone gets updated to Jelly Bean, and you see the new setting in the developer options, you'll know what you're looking at and why.

More: Android 4.1 APIs

 

Reader comments

Jelly Bean brings a new permission along - 'read external storage'

8 Comments

I have a question about the external storage access on the Nexus 7.

I understand there's the support for USB Host, which means you can, in theory, plug in a thumbdrive and use that as external storage.

Do you think this would be possible with the Nexus 7? I think 16gb is too small for 2012. Not everyone is always connected to the cloud.

So, the world is moving on to Jellybean and Motorola phones STILL don't have ICS??
What is GOING ON, MOTOROLA??? COME ON ALREADY.

Your article talks about "Read external storage", but the photo clearly says "Read USB storage"... two very different things (although you COULD consider the latter a subset of the former).

I just wanted to point out, Jerry, that the "external" in "external storage" is there for historical reasons, but refer to the shared storage of the device, internal or external, and not only to sd cards.

From the dev site: «Every Android-compatible device supports a shared "external storage" that you can use to save files. This can be a removable storage media (such as an SD card) or an internal (non-removable) storage.»

Can you explain how can be a External storage be Internal Storage, when they are two different storage?