When Android Q Beta 2 rolled out to our beta-enrolled Pixel devices, we noticed that many apps were unable to function as they once could. This is partly because of a new restriction placed on apps, called Scoped Storage, that changes the permissions needed to access certain files. In response to developer feedback, Google is making Scoped Storage optional in Android Q, starting with Beta 3.
Under the Scoped Storage rules, an app can only access files on your device if it has permission for a specific library. For example, a photo gallery app would need to request permission to manage your photos library, and a media player should request permission for your music and video libraries. Otherwise, without these permissions, an app is restricted to only saving data in its own “sandbox,” the contents of which are deleted when the app is uninstalled.
On the positive side of things, apps no longer need to request permission for all of your files to be able to save a few files. Conversely, some app developers were suddenly faced with the need to massively overhaul their app’s permissions to prepare for Scoped Storage and the launch of Android Q in the coming months. Tying back to their recent promise to take Android developer feedback more seriously, Google is removing the requirement for apps on Android Q to implement Scoped Storage.
We expect that Scoped Storage should have minimal impact to apps following current storage best practices. However, we also heard from you that Scoped Storage can be an elaborate change for some apps and you could use more time to assess the impact. Being developers ourselves, we understand you may need some additional time to ensure your app’s compatibility with this change. We want to help.
Starting with Android Q Beta 3, which is set to launch in May, apps that target Android Pie or a lower version will no longer have Scoped Storage rules enforced by default. Further, Scoped Storage will not become a requirement again until “next year’s major platform release,” presumably Android R.
Essentially, Google has given developers an extra year to prepare and test their apps for Android Q’s Scoped Storage requirements. To help get prepared, apps that do not yet target Android Q will be able to use a special setting to enable Scoped Storage on Android Q devices. Google hasn’t shared the specifics of how this will work, but we should find out more next month.