Android: Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

In the benefits often put forward by the followers of Android, there is the presence of the card reader (micro) SD, which in theory allows to increase the capacity of the storage memory at less cost. But with Android 4.4, this card reader becomes increasingly unnecessary, as explained Police Android . Indeed, without even taking into account that the microSD card reader is increasingly scarce, Android Kit Kat has changed the management of the reader, which prevents applications from writing to a microSD card.

Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards
Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

The operation of external cards: Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

The site first explains how Android handles the storage memory. Technically, there is no real physical differentiation between the integrated eMMC memory and an SD card, but the system manages, logically, the two areas differently.

In the early days of Android (2.x up), an application could easily write an SD card by simply requesting permission to the operating system. Since Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), the operation is different: by default, only pre-installed applications (collectively Google apps and smartphone manufacturer applications) and the operating system itself can write to an SD card. Indeed, the access method has been modified and the rights can not be recovered directly by an application downloaded from the Play Store (for example).

Ecire and erase data? Not allowed.

That at least is the theory. In practice, manufacturers like Samsung modify the OS to provide access to applications, like customs ROMs, whose mechanisms are modified so that applications have access to SD cards. Specifically, only devices sold by Google (simplifying) have this limitation, and only the Motorola Xoom has a card reader and a fairly recent OS (the Nexus One Android 3.x never received officially or 4.x).

Android KitKat

Android KitKat, the operation is different. Applications now have the right permissions to write without an SD card, but only in a dedicated folder. More concretely, a photo editing application can not change such an image on an SD card in a classic folder (typically / DCIM) and can only store the modified image in his private folder. Moreover, subtlety, this private folder is automatically erased from an SD card if the application is uninstalled. Applications can freely read by against the public folder content from an SD card and read and write in the public records of internal memory. Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

What is interesting, according to Android Police is that if manufacturers of smartphones and tablets suppressed limitations of Google in previous versions of Android, this is not the case with KitKat: Galaxy S 4 and LG gPad two devices available in Google Play Edition, have the same limitations.

For users accustomed to store data on an SD card, it is a return to serious enough back, and that’s a real problem for some applications, such as music players, applications dedicated to photography or just anyone who wants to easily exchange data through an SD card.

Towards a disappearance of the files organization: Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

The conclusion is pretty amazing: Google is actually trying to “disappear” a level of abstraction, that of organizing files. While the organization tree is appreciated for some users, those who use IT tools for years, it seems archaic to novice users who are new computer with a smartphone, tablet or even a modern operating system. iOS (Apple) and Windows Phone (Microsoft) have chosen to completely hide the internal structure to users and let the applications managed data, and it seems that Google wants to follow the same path.

It remains to see how users react: the “power users” who choose Android precisely to the possibilities of the system and the presence of certain markers, may not appreciate, but the majority of users, those who choose a smartphone for its look, its price or its applications, should not really react. That said, we can still assume that custom ROMs quickly propose a technique to bypass the limitations, but they are obviously interested users a fringe. Google wants to limit the use of microSD cards

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