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Google pushes Android Q's controversial Scoped Storage enforcement to Android R in 2020

One of Android Q's key focuses so far has been privacy, bringing a big change to how apps access a phone's file system. In the most recent beta, Google implemented Scoped Storage, an important tenet of that privacy push, and it was immediately met with negative feedback and controversy.

Scoped Storage has good intentions: it's meant to allow apps to have its own storage area while preventing them from having access to the entire storage partition. When implemented, apps are placed in a sandbox and don't need special permissions to write to their own files. It also means other apps don't have direct access to that app's sandbox. However, apps still have access to files in shared collections including the default folders Photos, Videos, Music, and Downloads.

To prevent breaking apps that haven't implemented Scoped Storage (most of them at this point), Google also included a compatibility mode, which disables the restrictive storage permissions for Scoped Storage on apps installed before the update to Android Q beta 2, and for apps built for Android 9 Pie or older. The problems arise when someone uninstalls and reinstall an app — compatibility mode will be disabled for it.

In theory, this sounds like a great security feature for Android. The controversy stems from Scoped Storage breaking users' apps, changing how they use their phone, and an outcry from developers about not having enough time to update their apps before the final release of Android Q.

Now, Google has decided to pump the breaks on the new security feature by not enforcing the API in the next Android Q beta. Instead, there will be a more gradual transition to Scoped Storage, requiring apps to adapt to the new API over the next year in order to be ready for the release of Android R.

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8 Comments
  • Hopefully developer back lash will be such that Google will end up pushing this dumb iPhonesque idea into the litter bin, where it belongs.
  • Hopefully Google sticks with improving the security model of Android. I notice you don't have a real argument against this behind comparing it to the iPhone.
  • So better security for apps and to try and prevent rogue apps messing with other apps and you're against it... lol.
  • Agreed, they attempted this a few years before, I believe it was either Ice Cream Sandwich or Jellybean, but the result was EXACTLY what people fear, it will destroy thousands of apps, especially ones that let you have control over your own device or work better than the stock apps. File managers would be useless, since you can't access your full filesystem anymore. Zip/Rar/7Z archive apps as well for the same reason, as well as backup apps. Image/Video editors will be restricted to the "media" folder so if you have anything anywhere else they can't touch it, hope you enjoy keeping any projects or unrelated images in the same location as your camera photos/videos if you want to use them. 3rd party galleries will have the same issue as well. This nonsense utterly WRECKED thousands of apps a few years ago when they attempted it, so badly that it was undone in the next update. I thought that was the end of this absurd nonsense.... but now it's back again.... and too many people are going "Ohh, security!" and attacking anyone who has any valid issues with it. How about... you know, people actually be RESPONSIBLE? Rather than wrestling control of our own device out of our hands and destroying thousands of apps, how about NOT screwing over millions of people who use those thousands of apps for the few who are too stupid to realize a flashlight does not need access to your storage or contacts? (Notice how this won't prevent apps from still requesting access to your contacts, photos, etc?) Go ahead and make "allow apps to request full filesystem access" an option you have to enable in developer options or something rather than just slapping down anyone who needs this access as well as thousands of apps that legitimately did just to cater to the people who allow permissions that they have no idea what they are? Like I said, they can hide that option if they want that you need to enable first, similar to how you have to enable installing apps outside the appstore, but don't cut off that ability entirely!
  • And here I am still on Oreo because I can't stand having the clock on the left. Looks like I will be on Oreo until I get a new phone now and with changes like this I will milk this Pixel 2 as long as possible.
  • Wow, missing out on a heap of amazing features and improvements because the clock moved from one side to the other... You're also probably the type of person that kept a flip phone because "those dang smartphones are making our youth lazy!" I agree though that the relocation was odd for everything but the P3XL but I guess it was moved for everything in the name of feature parity.
  • LOL you can easily move the clock where you want, there are lots of apps in the Play Store
  • Minor point, but it is "pump the "brakes", not "breaks". Common mistake.