Google has given developers some relief after they voiced concerns over Android's planned switch to scoped storage. Feedback about the Android Q betas 1 and 2 provided by developers opened Google's eyes a bit, and the company has put off the required change for an entire year to give app writers more time to adjust.
Google originally intended for scoped storage to become the de facto practice in Android Q (API level 28). Scoped storage generates individual storage sandboxes for applications in such a way that they aren't forced to seek permission to write files. At the same time, apps can only access data stored within their own sandbox. The long game here is to protect privacy. By restricting what data apps have the ability to access, it prevents bad actors from taking advantage. This applies to Android folders that house downloads, music, photos, and videos.
Scoped storage should be an easy transition for apps that follow Google's published storage best practices -- but not every app does.
"We heard from you that Scoped Storage can be an elaborate change for some apps and you could use more time to assess the impact," explained Google. "Being developers ourselves, we understand you may need some additional time to ensure your app’s compatibility with this change."
Thus, Google is relaxing the timeframe for this change. When Google releases Android Q beta 3, widely expected to arrive May 7, the first day of the Google I/O developer conference, apps that target Android 9 Pie API level 28 and lower will see no changes to the way storage works. A forthcoming manifest attribute will let developers enable scoped storage in their Android Q apps even when those apps target API level or lower.
This doesn't mean developers can sit on their laurels. Google expects developers to update their apps and make them compatible with scoped storage sooner rather than later. The change will become required in Android R, which isn't expected to debut reach beta until Februarty 2020 and consumers until August or September of 2020.