Over the last few years, few topics have been more hotly contested by Android users and developers than how SD cards are handled by the OS. Back in February, I discussed some of Google's changes during the transition from Android 2.3 to 4.0, and then how more recent policy changes ultimately led to 3rd-party applications losing most of their access to removable storage. By the time I/O came around, Google acknowledged that KitKat's newly added Storage Access Framework still didn't offer enough range for apps to get their work done.
Yesterday, Google's Camera app was updated to add a pretty handy remote shutter feature that can be used on a paired Android Wear wristwatch. But what if you're packing some serious camera equipment –let's say, something in the Canon EOS family– and you'd like to appear in some of your own shots from time to time? Chainfire has you covered with the latest update to his incredibly powerful DSLR Controller. Not only does the new version offer a remote shutter button on Android Wear, but it's also sporting some big improvements to the Timelapse feature, new white icons and faster wi-fi transfer speeds on KitKat, and fixes for the way SD cards are handled on KitKat and above.
"Because the history of computing has taught us is that data will not be contained. Data breaks free. It expands to new media, crashes through barriers; painfully, maybe even dangerously. But, uh, there it is… Data finds a way." - Jeff Goldblum as Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Gift Shop)
When we last left our favorite removable storage device, OEMs had begun adopting Google’s policy for restricting write access to SD cards.
Last month we posted an article examining some very significant changes to the way SD cards could be accessed and how Google's partner OEMs had begun enforcing these restrictions with Android 4.4. There can be no doubt, a lot of people were displeased to see their expandable storage crippled. While some have vowed to never update to KitKat, and others have turned to custom ROMs that don't enforce the same rules, there are still many people that still want to have the best of both worlds.
In recent years, Google hasn’t exactly been known as particularly hospitable toward SD cards with regard to its Android operating system. This theme is most often associated with the Nexus line of devices - the Nexus One was the only such handset to ever offer expandable storage. But despite arguments from Dan Morrill and Matias Duarte suggesting this stance is about keeping the Android interface simple and file picker-free, people still want more space.
We've heard more than a few laments from HTC fans about the lack of an expandable storage option for the flagship HTC One. If you still want a One with a MicroSD card slot (and you happen to live in the United Kingdom), HTC is about to make your dreams come true. The HTC One model 802w, with a removable back panel revealing dual SIM slots and a MicroSD card slot, is now being offered as a pre-order.
Expandable storage seems to be dying off in Android. The
excuses reasons are varied, but the writing seems to be on the wall. Of course, each time a new flagship rolls off the line sans microSD slot, fans cry out in frustration. SanDisk is taking on the challenge of making an accessory meant to bring expandable storage to any device. The result is called SanDisk Connect, a pair of portable drives with Wi-Fi that your phone or tablet can connect to for file storage or content streaming.
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.
Google jumped the gun just a little bit and shipped tomorrow's version of Google Music today, which means we've got about 12 hours to spoil even more of the surprises Google has in store for us at their "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai" event. Let's get to it.
Music ships with all sorts of support for something called "Chromecast." It's basically Google's version of Airplay. Check this out:
<string name="error_start_session_failed">Unable to start a session with the Chromecast device.</string>
<string name="error_session_ended">Lost connectivity with the Chromecast device.</string>
<string name="error_ramp_command_failed">Failed to control the media.</string>
<string name="error_no_session">Not currently connected to the Chromecast device.</string>
Connect to a remote device, and start playing media!
Well, it's only taken about five months, but Verizon XOOM owners will finally be able to make use of that lovely microSD slot on the side of their tablet. Of course, the OTA update in question does a fair bit more than allow you to up your XOOM's already robust storage. Take a look at this list:
While Verizon (they're the ones publishing the update) doesn't explicitly state that the update, dubbed HTJ85 (has a nice ring to it, right?), brings Android 3.2 to the XOOM, it's clearly implied by the addition of "Screen Scaling Compatibility Mode" - a feature of Android 3.2 that we talked about a while ago.