Google tried to implement Scoped Storage in Android 10, but developer backlash forced it to pull back. With Android 11, Scoped Storage is happening for real. Thankfully, Google has taken the criticisms to heart. Scoped Storage will have a few exceptions, one of which will allow apps with important storage-dependent functions to continue working.

The idea behind Scoped Storage is a good one. Rather than allowing apps to request storage access and see everything, they should only be able to see their own directory and select locations like downloads. Developers didn't like the all or nothing approach in Android 10, but Android 11 will be much gentler with the transition as previously rumored.

First, developers will be able to keep using the legacy storage access system as long as they target Android 10 (API level 29). That will only be a viable option until Google requires Android 11 support in 2021. In addition, Google will add a new permission for apps like file managers and backup apps with "core use cases" that require full storage access. These apps will be able to get full file access by declaring the MANAGE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission. There will eventually be a system settings page where users can enable this feature. Google says it will have more guidelines on how and when apps can use that permission later in the preview.