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22-Jan-2017 23:11

Outside of those private folders on secondary storage, everything is fair game to be read.

This makes it possible for users to put photos, music, and movies onto an SD card for later use.

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.

Google is apparently firming up its position on expandable storage even further, though, and in a way that limits flexibility and changes how we can use it. Almost every type of storage in Android is considered "external storage," including the non-removable flash memory that comes in every device, which is designated "primary storage." Everything else is considered "secondary storage." Since the very early days of Android, an app simply had to request the WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission to have access to any and all external storage.

It’s just like the private folders that already exist on primary storage, but with negligible security, since the SD card can be removed and freely accessed by a computer.

The end result was that the original WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission could only give apps the ability to write to the primary storage, but not secondary storage.

The newer WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE permission could write to secondary storage, but regular apps couldn’t access it.

Basically, this cut off any possibility for 3rd-party apps to modify data on SD cards.

There is a little bit more to this story, but we’ll get to that later.

This change actually went live in Honeycomb 3.2, but it received fairly little attention. To begin with, Honeycomb's source code only became public with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, meaning this change was buried amidst thousands of others.To gain access to this group, a permission called WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE was added.