Google grants app makers more time to add support for Scoped Storage in Q

Scoped Storage tightens restrictions on how apps can access external storage

Following developer complaints, Google is giving app makers more time to support Android Q’s ‘Scoped Storage’ feature.

For the unfamiliar, Scoped Storage is Google’s attempt to clamp down on an app’s access to a phone’s storage.

Before Android Q, any app could read or write any file to external storage. To clarify, external storage is what you see when you plug your phone into a PC and doesn’t refer to physically external storage like micro SD cards.

To access storage, apps had to use the ‘READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE’ and ‘WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE’ permissions. Unfortunately, unremitted access to storage isn’t great. Often, apps dump all kinds of clutter in the storage, not to mention security and privacy issues.

Thankfully, Android Q and Scoped Storage would lock apps down so they can only access their own folder in external storage (usually located in ‘/data/media/{user}/Android’). Then, apps that need to access shared media items like photos and music have to request new permissions specific to those needs. Apps needing full access to storage, like file managers, will have to use the ‘Storage Access Framework’ instead.

According to XDA Developers, developers complained that Google hadn’t given enough time to make these changes. Considering Scoped Storage comes into effect with Q, and affects all apps, regardless if they target older APIs, it’s easy to see why this could be an issue. Developers must update apps to work with Scoped Storage, or risk Q breaking things.

Thankfully, Google heard the complaints and won’t enforce Scoped Storage on apps targetting Android Pie. However, new apps on the Play Store must target Android Q by August 1st, 2020, and existing apps have until November 1st of the same year to support Q. That should give app makers plenty of time to update their apps.

Source: XDA Developers