So, there's this extremely minor Google Music update floating around in the "rollout" ether that will take you from 5.1.1107K to 5.1.1109K. I poked around in it and found a few boring changes related to Chromecasting, but the "new feature" that some people will really notice is the removal of the SD card hack we told you about last month. 


That's right, update to 1109; lose a feature. They basically killed the little activities shortcut that allowed you to set the option, and removed the SD card preference from the settings storage. The core of the SD code hasn't been ripped out; they just did the bare minimum to disable it.

So, do you have an SD card? Have you been enjoying your extra song storage this past month? If so, then version 5.1.1109 is the devil - stay away. Hopefully this is just a temporary thing until they work out all the bugs (have there been any bugs?) with SD storage.

If you've been surprised by this, and want a version with SD support, you can still download 5.1.1107 5.1.1106 (and view the hack instructions) in our old article.

Thanks to Douglas Vantran for sending in the APK

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • CyanogenMod User

    hooray for google's fight against sd cards and assuming everyone has such a cheap and good data plan to always be connected to the cloud.

    • Marcus Townsend

      Well it certainly makes a more compelling case for manufacturers to add in larger capacities of built-in storage by default. They have a choice: pay the cost to add in more storage (while subtracting the cost of an SD slot if they have one) or spend the time (=money) to keep working around enabling the use of SD cards in each new version of Android.

      • ProductFRED

        Yeah, to add more storage options, and use Apple-style pricing for upping it. $100 to go from 32 to 64GB? Give me a break...A 32GB card is, what $15-20 these days? And half the time the storage options are carrier-exclusive options. Like the 64GB HTC One only on AT&T. The reason Google removed SD card support from Android was because they said developers and users were confused about which files were going where. At the very least, leave in SD card support just for media files. That's pretty much what I use mine for. Especially with the rise of 1080p screens and 1+ GB games. It's completely ridiculous to have to settle non-expandable storage.

        I hate this, "Most people are stupid, so let's dumb it down for everyone" mentality. If I had wanted that, I would have bought an iPhone.

        • Marcus Townsend

          I was suggesting a more ideal scenario. Everyone knows asshole is overpriced, and their storage scheme is no different. I wasn't paying attention to price (charged) at all. But Google (and apple) taking these steps does lead to larger faster default internal storage for all, even if the in between isn't pretty.

          • Darkbotic

            "Everyone knows asshole is overpriced".

            Wait, what?

          • Marcus Townsend

            Haha dammit autocorrect. Fixed.

          • Matthew Fry

            Freudian slip more like :-P

        • Tim Meader

          While I agree that the bump up in in storage prices are overpriced, people generally think of the pricing incorrectly when comparing them to what they see for flash drives or SD cards. The built in memory on the phones is of MUCH higher quality (akin to an SSD drive in your PC). $100 for 32GB at this point is still quite a mark-up, but expecting that to cost $20 is also entirely unrealistic for the type of memory being used.

          • Bruce Lin

            Actually, 32GB of NAND is around $3.25. Manufacturers who buys large shipment is probably paying even lower.

        • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

          They may try to compel manufacturers to include larger capacities in their devices, but they can't do it in their Nexus devices.

          Where's my 64GB Nexus 4?

        • Enes Taşdemir

          A 32 gb micro sd class 10 card is actually around 30-40 dollars.

      • MIsjsl

        This would be ideal. It's annoying how most carriers seem to only have 16GB models. It's nice how 32GB is the lower option on the HTC One, I wish the other manufacturers would follow suit.
        Also, while it's nice that the Nexus 4 has a cheaper 8GB option, it's complete bull that it maxes out at 16GB. If that's not a case of them forcing you to use the cloud (Google is a web company after all), I don't know what is.

    • Ray

      You don't need to always be connected. There is the options to cache the playlist to your device so you can listen to the music whenever and where ever.

      • squiddy20

        I get that, but what if you have a sudden hankering for 1 specific song that you haven't cached, and are in an area that has really slow/non-existant data? Up shit creek.

        • Ray

          What if you have a sudden hankering for 1 specific song that you haven't copied to your SD card? It is no different.

          Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see bigger internal storage and think that 32Gb is an absolute minimum today, even with the cloud and mobile coverage becoming better and better.

          That said, if I had to chose between a phone with or without an sd card, I'd go without and not think twice about it. If I had a phone with an SD card slot I still wouldn't use it.

          • squiddy20

            Except, I (and I suspect many others) would be more likely to copy/transfer all my (our) music to the SD/internal storage, than cache it all.
            I've got almost all my music stored locally on my phone, and the only stuff that isn't there is stuff I could probably delete from my entire music collection because I don't listen to them.
            Besides, how easy is it to cache all your music? I've never used Google Music so I have no first-hand knowledge of it, but aren't you limited to caching an album, playlist, or song at a time rather than hitting a "cache all" button?

          • Ray

            Fair point. If you're copying 'all' your music I guess depending on the size of it all, you're going to need a lot of storage.

            It's very easy to cache Google Music - I think so anyway. I use it exclusively.

            You could setup a Playlist and just assign all music to it (easily done via the web interface) and with a tap of a button (within the app), it caches it all. The only downside here is that it does it over WIFI (or mobile data if you've got an unlimited plan) so it could take some time.

            If you would rather be a little more organised, simply create multiple Playlists and cache only those Playlists you want to listen to offline.

            It works really well for me however, everyone's wants and needs are different. I don't need nor want all 4000+ songs on my phone at once. I can only listen to so much music in one day.

      • Ronnstudd

        Can you explain how to do this?

    • http://www.macinations.net moldor

      Oh, bite me... We in Australia pay throufgh the nose for a paltry 2Gb a month... It sucks.

      • cy_n_ic

        Thats more than i get -__-

      • Ark

        lol. I downloaded over 50gb today.

        • Matthew Gardner

          Mobile data, not terrestrial internet.

          • Jonathan Isenberg

            Ark is probably on an unlimited plan with Verizon. I do the same thing too. I used about 75GB over tethering last month.

            IMO, use it as much as you want if you have it.

          • Ark

            Yep. I have my tablet and my laptop torrenting on different connections. There's just no reason not to.

          • Ark

            Yes, I meant mobile data.

        • MerdescuRazvan

          I feel really poor. All i get is 600Mb / month.

          • Tor Berglund

            Completely uncapped here in sweden. e.g. It's no worries at all to download full-HD movies from torrentsites directly to the cell

          • http://www.macinations.net moldor

            You are now OFF the xmas card list..:-)

      • unni123456

        Even if I want to pay more, most of us in India outside cities cannot get more than 2 GB in a month at 2 MBPS reliably...That too in a landline connection.

      • Sporttster

        Think CMU was being facetious....

      • Luke

        Australian here. I get 10gb data per month for $40 on my current plan with Yatango.

    • unni123456

      Another thing that makes me angry every time I try to use is the move to MTP instead of mass storage mode. I don't understand who is making all these decisions for Android...

      • Ark

        Meh. I don't use physical connections to transfer files anyway. Airdroid is just way too convenient.

        • unni123456

          I bought a Nexus 7 4-5 days back. I wanted to transfer around 10 GB of my music and videos to it. Mounted as MTP and started copying. Few minutes later, it gave an error saying device not responding or something. This occurred twice and had to reboot the tablet. If it were in mass storage mode, I can use some file comparison utility to figure out what files were not copied and copy only those. But MTP doesn't give me such options (atleast when I right click on the folder). So I had to copy them again. I think it didn't even offer to skip those files that were already copied. MTP itself doesn't work properly in my experience (in Transformer Infinity and in Nexus 7).

          I have the habit of keeping all my songs in my harddisk. I have identical copies of it in my two tablets and phone. When I add new songs to my hard disk, I use a file/folder compare utility to figure out which are the new files and copy only those. That works properly only with mass storage mode as far as my experience goes. Unfortunately, I cannot use AirDroid for this purpose either.

          • abobobilly

            Strictly to answer your question, you should use "Wondershare MobileGo" on your PC and see if it helps you manage your SD Card better.

            I have noticed that MTP devices don't work very well when used directly via Explorer in Windows. Hangs, Device Asleep, Crashes are usual ... which is annoying. Using through a software like MoboRobo or MobileGo, there are atleast no problems.

            Still, wired connections are faster than WiFi, unless you have a 450Mbps Wireless N Modem and you are sitting dead close to it.

    • NemaCystX

      I think there is a security reason for this to make music labels happy otherwise they might lose some. Warner and Sony are big ones that don't like lacky security when it comes to DRM for subscriptions. Otherwise we may not be allowed to download All Access added songs to our devices, just sayin.

    • DJRiful

      Just connect to Wifi and download?

  • wolfkabal

    Creating a symbolic link (shortcut) to the SD card directory still works it seems.

    • uapyro

      I'm glad someone already got this out there

    • Jonathan Seymour

      Depends on your device. Doesn't work for i9100 sdcard due to formatting.

      • wolfkabal

        Ah, wasn't aware, works on the GS3 and my Epic4G (GS1).

        • Keith Ketover

          Do you have a link to some instructions?

          • wolfkabal

            Open ROM Toolbox > Root Browser (Root Browser Lite works fine)
            1. Make a folder in your desired location (sdcard) called "Music" or something to that sort.
            2. Tap and hold, select the option "Create Shortcut" at the bottom
            3. Navigate to /data/data/com.google.android.music/
            4. Paste (to create the shortcut)
            5. Delete the "cache" folder in this directory
            6. Rename the shortcut to "cache"
            7. Enjoy!

            sourced from http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=32505109 for quick lookup.

          • Keith Ketover

            Tried it. Doesn't seem to work for me. When I pin it looks like my Device storage is being used not my SD card storage.

            Sprint SGS3 running LiquidSmooth 2.9

          • John O’Connor

            Make sure to create that folder on the ExtSD card and not the internal one labeled SDCard

  • Michael Kennedy

    I don't use my SD for music, I use it so I don't need to carry a USB key with me all day. The music thing is just gravy... and I don't like it when people take my gravy.

  • Jonathan Seymour

    Never worked for my galaxy s2 anyway... I still had internal storage as the only option.

  • spydie

    that download link is for 5.1.116 not 1107

  • Barry Ward

    So if I updated to this "devil" version, would it stop it storing to the SD card if the previous version already had the setting enabled? Does it just stop you from enabling if you haven't already?

    • MattE303

      I'm wondering the same thing. Also, would it no longer "see" pinned music that is already stored on the SD card?

      • Keith Ketover

        Got the update right before my road trip. All my pinned music is gone.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
          • Keith Ketover

            I'll give it a shot!

          • Keith Ketover

            I went through the install of Xposed and Music2SD and tried pinning some albums and playlists and based on storage usage it doesn't seem to be working on my Sprint SGS3 running LiquidSmooth 2.9.
            My main frustration is why did Google add this functionality if they aren't going to let us use it?! Argh!

        • MattE303

          That really sucks!! I've blocked the update for now. Gonna wait and see what Google decides to do here. If they don't bring SD storage back, I guess my only choices are root and symlink, or cancel my All Access sub :(

  • TejasEric

    I would have no issues with this if devices had 32 Gb useable internal space by default. But since so many devices have 16 Gb as their total space available that is just not enough and this sucks! Even the current Nexus device has poor internal storage. I'd love to get a Nexus device but 16 Gb is just not enough for me! I'd use over half that on music.

  • dylan

    The update finally fixed the Motorola Droid Razr compatability with Chromecast!

  • Ryan Stewart

    It sucks but I guess it goes along with the common logic they have been using (and Apple was born on) that most users just arent bright enough to have options.

    Everyone here knows but my mom is clueless. She would somehow figure out how to set something to save to an SD (or have a program that automatically does it) only to remove the card and then call me asking why her program doesn't work or it cant find something).

    Unfortunately we are the minority. It would be sweet if they could turn it on with Developer Options or something of the like.

  • spookytay

    I'm confused, looks like it stores it on my SD card by default

  • brunodmjr

    Google is turning evil. :/

  • hp420

    There are a few apps out there that let you use SD card (or internal storage) to store your google music mp3 cache, too. I hope they weren't also affected, because it's a gigantic pain having to re-cache my whole music collection every time I flash a new rom!!

    • Stacey Liu

      Which ones? I've been recaching this whole time.

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    A few people on the comments here seem to get it at least. Google is doing away with SD card support, and every OEM other than Samsung seems to agree with them. I, for one, totally buy into Google's case that SD cards do nothing but cause confusion because they can't be used for absolutely everything. They're not an integral part of the Android system.

    You cannot mount an SD card and just have it become an extension of your regular data partition. It will always have to remain a separate partition, which means that no matter what you do, or how easy you make it, apps will always have to explicitly support SD cards in some manner. It can never be a transparent, OS-level thing that the user doesn't have to see or think about.

    Because of that, it's better to not have it, at least for 98% of customers who own these phones. Will people like us bitch and complain about it? Sure. But we aren't where the money is, so we take what we can get. If we don't like it, we turn to the development community.

    People don't like choices, people don't like options. People want their hand held and they want to be told what they want. The end.

    • Matthew Fry

      So don't call it an extension of your regular data partition. Call it a media drive and only store media on it. No app has to support it any more than supporting the ability to browse to a directory.

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Most people don't understand directories, though. I see your point and I do agree to an extent. You can definitely make SD cards user friendly, but only to a specific degree. In the end, rule #1 of UX is that you have to design your user experience to the lowest common denominator. For portable mobile devices, that axes SD cards in my opinion.

    • Barry Ward

      Well manufacturers need to stop making phones with a mere 16GB capacity then, especially when 7GB of that is taken up with the OS and bloatware

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Most OEMs also make phones with double that capacity. 32 GB should be enough on a phone, at least in modern times. Don't you think if there were actually a market for 64 GB or 128 GB phones, that someone would capitalize on it and release one? Clearly OEMs see no market for it.

        • Barry Ward

          I agree, 32GB is perfectly capable for most. I would be very happy with a 32GB Samsung S4. I am new to Android, and was told by an Android guy not to worry about the S4 only having 16GB as I can use a Micro SD card. However he failed to point out apps are still stored on the device even with the latest update as their data cannot be moved to SD. So for me to play games such as Gangstar and Modern Combat is impossible without compromising on how many I can have and what else I can remove. Of course there's rooting, but I don't want to root being a novice. Samsung were supposed to have released a 32GB S4 but haven't done so in the UK. I actually wish I'd have gone with a 32GB HTC

          • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

            Yeah that's a tough spot.

          • Barry Ward

            Exactly. So you can see why the Micro SD card is essential for me at the moment, with only 9GB device storage to play with otherwise. Looking forward to my next phone- making sure I'm never getting a 16GB ever again, and DEFINITELY not listening to my "mate" lol

        • unni123456

          I have a 64 GB micro SD and 16 GB internal memory in my phone. That's not enough for me... :(

        • John O’Connor

          "Don't you think if there were actually a market for 64 GB or 128 GB phones, that someone would capitalize on it and release one? Clearly OEMs see no market for it."

          There is clearly a market and even Apple understands that (hence their 16/32/64gb/ and soon 128gb devices.) It is a cop-out to say that OEM's see no market and nobody else even makes half an attempt to even "try" it.

          If we are going to continue doing away with external storage then we do need to increase internal storage. It has been said so many times, and many of us know, that a few camera pics/videos, data cache and application and app data storage will quickly burn through the paltry internal memory when you don't offer anything over 16gb (10-14gb user available depending on OS and bloat.) The OEM's keep talking about 32gb versions of their 16gb devices (to be released at a later time) or even limited/special 64gb editions. I have yet to see any OEM release any such device.

          They realized that the empty promises made is subsequently overshadowed by the fact that many who were waiting for a higher capacity device end up biting the bullet and buying one of the lower capacity devices because they are tired of waiting indefinitely.

          The market exists, the OEM's just remove the market themselves by dragging their feet (e.g. never releasing said phantom, mythical high capacity version of their device) and then conveniently moving on to the next model leaving many shaking their heads. Whatever happened to those 32gb Note 2's or 64GB S3's, Samsung? Of course Samsung is not the only OEM to pull a bait and switch and then sweep it under the carpet.

      • Matthew Fry

        Agreed. 16GB is stifling (especially with Google Music taking upward of 2GB of data). 32GB should be the lowest common size.

    • Matt McKee

      "People don't like choices. People don't like options. People want their hand held and they want to be told what they want."

      And this is the problem right here. Android wasn't made for those types of people. It's been slowly changed from an OS for power users to an OS for people who can't tell a computer monitor from a tower.

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        And yet every quarter when the numbers come out, we all get excited as we see Android take over more and more of the market share of the mobile world. Why is Android so popular? Because it's becoming more and more accessible. Sure, maybe that'll cost it some hipster cred with the fringes, but I don't really think Google cares about that.

    • John Smith

      I guess I'll just be buying Samsung in the future, then.

  • RTWright

    Okay.... First off I don't even use Google's crappy music app, it's just not all that good to begin with. Secondly, crappy connections due to Carriers lack of proper support in your area ( Sprint, listening? Heh ) is another issue. Interference in connectivity to any cloud source makes it where you cannot 100% depend on your music or videos to play back without dropping and cutting in and out. Same can be said totally for cell use period. NOW! I have a class 10 SD in my GSIII, I hear people complaining all the bloody time about it. For those of you who do NOT wish to use one, then bloody DON'T! DO not buy one, do not put one in, and have a Coke and Smile? Get the point? You have a bloody choice to use it or not, that's up to you.

    Now for those of us who DO want to use one and have been since day one? Stuff like this is a major stab in the back. I read all the time that it's outdated technology, it's not. SD technology is far from outdated, your standard Hard Drives are outdated technology, SSD's are starting to finally become affordable. SSD's are not all that different in how they work from what SD's are. If the people making the hardware would just do a better job, then it's a nice addition. I have never once had a single solitary issue with my music, videos and apps running on my SD card, never! Not once! I've even had games stored on it and they play fine. Granted my games are not huge graphic intensive memory hogs either. Those would definitely be stored on the internal till I get tired of them.

    Point is, people who are hung up on supporting the Apple ways of doing things are idiots to me. There was a very good reason I never touched or wanted a iPhone. Because to get more memory in one, you had to buy a new one which costs substantially more than the one you're currently on. Just like others have pointed out, just going from 32GB to 64GB starts at $100 and goes up from there. When the cards are EASILY put in ( Usually from just popping open the back of the device and sliding the card in to the very OBVIOUS slot in the back or on the side with most Tablets ) and Android and most apps on it readily recognize the card.

    I use PowerAmp for my music, it allows me to not only play music from anywhere on my device, but select the exact folders for that purpose so that anything I add there is automatically found. That is no different than what you do when you install a program on y our desktop and tell it where to install, where the file locations are for whatever it needs. If people by and large are that stupid, that they can't figure something that simple out? Then man, stay the heck away from technology, you have no need to be near anything like high-end smartphones or computers. Get you a bloody flip-phone and be done with it ( Which by and large also have had SD cards for a long time now ).

    This is one of the biggest and lamest arguments to be had anywhere when it comes to storage on what is basically a hand-held computer. The removal of any kind of storage is bad, the overpricing of storage internally is ridiculously high and I'm pretty sick of seeing the high-end Androids becoming nothing more than a iDroid. To me, if you are going to make a flagship model that is at a premium price, it needs to have all options for users of all kinds covered or you're just another Apple.

    • Sporttster

      Excellent post and totally agree. I'm in the market for a phone with a sd slot and it is ridiculously limited and I'm sick of it!!!! These companies are forcing people to go cloud so they can charge for both the data and the storage itself. It's sickening. That's why they limit the internal storage space and why they've taken away the sd slots. I'm writing my reps about it because it's total BS and a way for these suckers to just make another buck off us....

  • addicuss

    You can use root explorer to create a symlink. It causes a few minor problems but works.

  • addicuss

    get root explorer. I have the paid version so not sure if you need that (if you do buy it or find another file browser capable of making symlinks).

    on your sd card create a "cache" and a "files" folder. I would put it in a gmusic folder as well just to keep things organized but the file structure is up to you.

    Navigate to /data/data/com.google.android.music/

    delete the cache and files folders.

    navigate back to the sdcard folders long press cache and hit link to this folder, navigate back to /data/data/com.google.android.music/ and hit create link. Do the same for files. If you click on it you can tell it worked because your available space will change to the ext sd card space at the top.

    A few notes:
    Gmusic crashes everytime I boot up. It tries to find the cache and music which are on the sd card which probably hasn't mounted yet so it freaks out. It's not a huge deal. after restarting I have no further issues.

    When you pin music, if you don't have enough room on your sdcard (internal) it will show a red pin because it thinks you'll run out of space before the music is downloaded. It will keep downloading music though.

  • Scott Breitbach

    Did they fix the chromecasting so that you can add songs to the queue from multiple users/devices, like you can with YouTube? Right now if I'm casting music and I connect my wife's phone, it cuts my device out...

  • MattE303

    this is a very sad development. If Google truly is intent on completely eliminating the SD storage option, they will be losing my $7.99/month. I don't have unlimited data so always streaming is not an option, and what's left of my 16GB of internal storage just isn't enough for pinned music. What a shame :(

  • notafanboyorhater

    Google's continued actions to force their anti-consumer cloud storage services really have me pissed off. They even think its 'too confusing' for users. http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Google-SD-Card-Nexus-Smartphone,18841.html

  • Alex Rieck

    If you're rooted you can still use either root explorer or root toolbox to replace the song storage folder with a shortcut to a folder on your sd card

  • Peter

    I wonder if this will fix the streaming of music to my Netgear PTV3000 which broke in the last couple of releases

  • abobobilly

    I love Play Music. I really do. I think the new UI with Sidebar is very convenient and looks just wonderful. But i absolutely hate Google's direction these days.

    Thats something ironic. "Update" to "Downgrade". Way to go Google.

    I sincerely hope it IS a temporary thing and this feature comes back in the next update.

  • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

    Fixed: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lepidusdevelopment.music2sd

    You must be rooted and have Xposed Framework installed. Other than that it just works. Follow the instructions. Enjoy! :D

  • Rauel Crespo

    I'd rather have a phone with 64GB or even 32GB of onboard with no SD, than 16GB onboard (consider that at least 7GB of that is normally eaten by the OS) and an SD card, where they the same price. If the US Galaxy S4 is any lesson to me, the SD-Card is mostly pointless as apps can't be installed on it, and this moronic move by Google now makes SD-Cards even more pointless....Removing SD-Cards from phones shouldn't happen until 64GB is the base configuration.

  • Keith Ketover

    If the code is still there is there any way (maybe via the terminal) to reactivate it?

  • Sarath Chandra Gullapalli

    As a Nexus 4 user, I don't mind the SD card support being revoked. But, this update cleared my "Thumbs up" list. I don't know why, that list currently has only one entry, which was the last song I "Thumbs-up"ped before the update. :(

  • Ronnstudd

    I recently moved my music from external storage to sd and now can't access music offline. Any suggestions ?