Google drastically reduced which directories apps can access on your phone on Android 11 as part of its new Scoped Storage, which is a change for the better regarding privacy. However, the new system is problematic for some advanced applications like file managers. When they target the latest version of Android, they can't access all of your phone's internal storage, making them useless for the purpose they were built for. To prevent tons of broken apps, Google has begun emailing developers with apps that require access to device storage, telling them that they'll soon be able to request access to all files via a new permission.
Android 11 introduced a new file accessing API, Scoped Storage. It essentially doesn't allow apps to access all files on your phone anymore, which is great for security. However, Scoped Storage also comes with some unwanted consequences. Non-Pixel phones running Android 11 have to ask users to confirm that they want to delete or restore images in Google Photos since the app isn't allowed to delete and restore files without explicit user consent anymore. Luckily, there's a fix for some phones.
Google introduced a controversial change in the name of security with Android 11 — Scoped Storage. The new API is supposed to hinder apps from reading each other's data, stopping bad actors from snooping through your phone. But that restriction also extends to file explorers, where it makes much less sense. Google promised it would work on exemptions for these apps, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the corresponding policy was postponed to 2021.
If you plan on buying a phone with Android 11 soon, you'll want to get used to your manufacturer's gallery app. And if you're going to be using Google Photos on something that's not a Pixel, be prepared to confirm every single thing you want to delete on the app. The reason why boils down to a new, well-intentioned policy in the operating system that leaves end users with some annoying consequences.
New Android releases always bring exciting new features to the table, but every once in a while, a beloved feature gets reworked or removed altogether. That's no different for Android 11, which made it more cumbersome to grant apps the permission to install APKs, requiring a restart of the application in question up until at least Developer Preview 4. While that requirement is still present on more recent builds, the situation is now slightly improved: when apps are programmed correctly, they'll restart the latest activity, making the experience as smooth as possible.
Scoped Storage was the most controversial addition to Android 10 when it debuted last year, as it blocked most applications from accessing your phone's entire internal storage to improve privacy and security. Google ended up pushing the deadline for supporting Scoped Storage to the release of Android 11 later this year, but there's additional functionality in the new Android version for apps to try out.
Android 11 is now official, and Google is releasing the first Developer Preview for this new version starting today. The software changes this time sound ambitious, with Google essentially taking most of its work on Android 10 and (literally) turning it up to 11, featuring enhancements to privacy and security, improvements to Project Mainline, a new dedicated "conversations" section for notifications, and tweaks to better harness 5G — all among a much longer list of changes just too big to include here. You can check it out for yourself by manually flashing it onto supported Pixel phones (everything but the 2016 OGs).
Privacy has always been an important consideration for smartphones, but over the past two years or so, it has become a key component of Android updates — Android 9 and 10 both introduced breaking changes designed to better protect users. The first developer preview of Android 11 went live today, and to the surprise of nobody, there's another round of privacy-focused features.
Perhaps the most drastic change announced for Android Q was Scoped Storage, which changes file management on Android by limiting which folders apps can access. After complaints from developers that they wouldn't be able to update their apps in time for Q, Google said it wouldn't make Scoped Storage a requirement until Android R, but well-known file manager Solid Explorer has just added support anyway.