What you need to know
- A look into Android 12 has shown that it may finally let users manage deleted files.
- The new "trash bin" will allow users to view and remove deleted files from their devices.
- The Files by Google app is set to receive a similar feature which could arrive around the same time.
Android 12 is still in early developer preview on phones like the Google Pixel 5, meaning many of its features are either hidden, not ready, or not finalized. Fortunately, there are plenty of developers who dig into the system to look at potential features that are being worked on. The latest look into the Android 12 code (via XDA-Developers) has unveiled that the hidden "trash bin" may finally become more of a thing with this new release.
The trash bin would more or less act similarly to the Recycle Bin in Windows; it would show you all the files that have been "deleted" on your device. The current implementation (below) seems to let you remove the files from your device, although there doesn't seem to be a way to restore files. However, that could change since the Files by Google app is apparently gaining a similar trash bin feature that will let you restore files.
Meanwhile, the feature is already somewhat present within Android 11, but it's fairly limited due to Google's scoped storage restrictions. We have an explanation on what scoped storage is in Android 11, but basically, apps would only have direct access to the files they create and no other storage within the device unless given permission. It would be up to each app to handle how they treat deleted files, which would normally just be hidden away in the app's own file directory until 30 days later when it would be purged from the device.
The Android 12 trash bin may finally offer users a way to manage all the deleted files on their device. Of course, its functionality would depend on whether or not apps make use of Google's trash API. This means it could be some time before we actually get a useful "recycle bin" on Android, but Google seems to be laying down the groundwork. With Android 12 expected to enter beta next month where it could reach more of the best Android phones, it's possible we may get more information on this feature at Google I/O 2021.