Google: “ISO Developers for App2SD”


You know that pesky “apps can’t install to SD card” problem you’re having to root your way around?

*Ahem, XDA*… Check this out:

“At the android-platform group, we’ve been hashing out a scheme for adding in official apps-to-sd support to AOSP. We have a couple of google engineers following along/helping out and are now at a state where the initial testing implementation (we’re using an incremental development approach) steps are defined in a fairly simple manner and we are ready to start at it from an actual implementation details/start coding perspective.

The actual thread is located here: http://groups.google.com/group/android-platform/browse_thread/thread/bf0709c157451cd9

Basically, if implemented, it will do the following;
1) totally obsolete current hacker apps2sd approaches by allowing actual sdcard removal from device.
2) ultimately ship with devices stock (when in a state where it is easy to use, stable, and at least as secure for non-root users as internal storage currently is).
3) keep application data on the same device as the actual application with no side-effects (like internal apps being broken while waiting for second partition to mount).
4) allow MULTIPLE sdcards containing apps to be swapped on the same device.
5) allow sdcard containing apps to be swapped between DIFFERENT devices.

Note: 4 and 5 are not in the initial implementation, first proof of concept and working system, then enhancement with additional features. 4 and 5 are not requirements for inclusion in AOSP, but they are cool features that ultimately should be implemented.

What we need:
Several good developers, web storage w/source/patch management, etc.
Anyone interested, please read the thread to get an idea of the current state of thought, and please don’t pollute that thread with nonsense. There is a current state of organization, and though not set in stone, it should be considered as NOT open for major architectural changes (i.e., the google engineers don’t have any major problems with the proposal that we can’t work through). Minor glitches and implementation details will be handled along the way. If you must pollute a thread with nonsense, use this one.”

So, anyone excited at all about this, or… eh. ..?


[Via AndroidSPIN, Thanks Shivers316]


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  1. Good deal.

  2. 1st & Phandroid Rocks!

  3. WOW. I am soooooooooooooooooooooo excited. Finally something about that subject. I can’t wait.

  4. YES!!!! Do they mention anything about this being an OTA update for existing phones once they are confident in the stability of the support?

  5. This is one of the cons on Rob’s review, and it seems they’re gonna fix it soon, I hope they fix all the others glitch(2.1 maybe?) They’re really on top of this, Apple needs to step it up, by the time apple announces the new iphone next summer there’s gonna be a whole different android out there, judging by the speed they’re getting updates out, they may very well catch up to apple fall of next year. Well done, Google.

  6. i can see it now, apples down hill fall

  7. Every single one of my grips seem to be vanishing. GO GOOGLE.

  8. Wow, I love you for the news! I am glad to hear of this project. Glad enough people care about this stuff!

  9. Hey, BTW, the link at the end is broken

  10. Now we just have to get all of the other updates to phones that are already out (i.e. 1.6/2.0)

  11. I must second kidphat on this one. GO GOOGLE. This is HUGE news. Thanks Talton.

    I must admit that points 4 and 5 are really kickass. If they do that, they just stepped up the game. The iPhone will look stupid with their apps that can’t migrate directly from one device to another…

  12. WOW, this is great. It’s nice to know that google is self-aware about their OS’s weaknesses and are actively working to resolve them! GO GOOGLE!

  13. awesome! I was afraid that due to legal issues google would never be able to do this, that was my one big fear about getting the droid was that they would start making android devices with enough internal memory and i wouldn’t be able to get the new big apps and games, and now (knocking on wood and crossing my fingers this doesn’t fall through) it’s not even an issue

  14. Excellent news. That’s one of the few things that’s made me a little apprehensive about Android.

  15. Oh snap! Now that is slick. I had just got through talking with someone about how I was gonna r00t it for app2sd. Now it wont even be necessary. Come on son!

  16. haha….except google wasnt exactly on top of it…it was a group of independent devs that thought it up and then worked with the google devs to iron out the details

  17. One giant leap for Android….

  18. Good news. But from a commercial viewpoint, if the Market is to be able to grow in quality and entice commercial app makers to develop Android apps, I think they must still tread carefully in respect of point 5, because their earnings will be affected if the same installed app could be exchanged/copied among a large group of Android users. Might make it not worth their time to develop for Android.

  19. One of the android os developers was actually talking about this the other day on the droid press release day. Honestly for the droid they could put it out there with out a bunch of the functionality. You cannot remove the SD card from the droid while it has power so the disappearing media thing wouldn’t be an issue.

  20. Uh…booya. To all the people who recently blasted Android for not supporting this, I say: behold the power of the open platform. What the people want, the people get. I’d love to see Apple/Microsoft/RIM add a major feature like that fast, at the users’ request. Having an open platform means the users can supply direct input on things they think can be added or improved. Sorry big guys, but your little focus groups just don’t cut it anymore.

  21. great news. good work phandroid

  22. Great news. You have to applaud the Googlers for their pace of OTW updates, so far. Just look how far AOSP has come in only 12 months. Very impressive.
    The guys at 1 Infinite Loop know they have to spill some crazy cool iPhone news at WWDC 2010. Speaking of which, anyone want to bet that we see Android v3.0 released by 2Q10?

  23. asqwerth wrote:
    “because their earnings will be affected if the same installed app could be exchanged/copied among a large group of Android users. Might make it not worth their time to develop for Android.”

    I’m less likely to buy an app if it means I won’t be able to use it once I get a new phone.

  24. @asqwerth:

    > …their earnings will be affected if the same installed app
    > could be exchanged/copied among a large group of Android users.

    True, of course. But, assuming a large enough user-base, you don’t need guaranteed 100% security (against illegal swaps) to keep app-development attractive. All you have to do is make it ‘too’ difficult for the average user to bother looking for a free version. Too time-consuming for the warez guys would be nice, too, but rotsa ruck with that. :)

    I’m no encryption wiz, but several classic approaches come to mind. Say, at download, Android permanently associates the app with your phone’s unique ID _and_ the SD card’s…heck, a session ID, phone number, etc. Maybe let devs/sellers choose from a list of IDs – or a list of schemes – so its not a simple matter of cracking just one or building a single keygen.

    Regardless, the real trick will be incorporating the security routine so far into the OS that its safe from rooters.

  25. I think it’s great that when you but an Android you know better stuff is waiting for you in the future!

  26. @asqwerth:

    > I’m less likely to buy an app if it means I won’t be
    > able to use it once I get a new phone.
    I doubt you’d be able to swap your paid apps from one Android phone to another. Not if they’re on-card and not anytime soon, at least.
    Any user-scenario more sophisticated than 1:1 – one SD card, playable on one device – likely requires a more sophisticated solution than could be implemented in a reasonable amount of time…by year’s end or at the start of 1Q10. The quickie stuff I mentioned previously all requires matching the apk to the phone, which implies the possibility of burning info to onboard memory.

  27. @asqwerth
    as far as i know, if you paid for an app, and you get a new phone, you can go download the app from the market again, free of charge.

  28. @Justa Notherguy and Pieter, I think you’re referring to ari-free’s comment at #23.

    @Justa Notherguy at #24 and #26 – hopefully something concrete can be implemented soon. It is a big, valid criticism that people keep throwing at Android phones.

  29. Am I the only one you says this should have been in 1.5 all along??

  30. ups the first you=who

  31. @all
    Why don’t just install buy-apps on the phone and freeware in the sd??

  32. Yes! There’ another thing that will make these phones much more useful. A lot of people have issue that, for example, an 8gb iphone can store 8 gigs of apps, but an android phone with, say, a 32 gig sd card can only store up to as much memory as they have on their phone. With Android phones having a poor music player interface, our SD cards probably go mostly unused. (I have a 4gb with only about 1gb of music on it). I’m hoping for this to be included in the 2.1 update that we were promised before year end.

  33. ANDROID … A platform for the People and Of the People. Freakin Awesome!!!!

  34. @JakeMG…actually even with an 8GB iphone…you still can’t load 8GB of ANYTHING, as a portion of that 8GB is used for basic memory and settings… but yes it will be great to actually USE your SD card and not the 256 MB of memory for running apps.

  35. ugh, i’m confused. so, there’s an internal memory (256M) and an external card (16G).

    based on what i’ve read, it sounds like apps can’t be stored in the card. if so, do all my apps (cumulative size) need to be stored in that puny-sounding internal space?

    can someone help clarify this for me?


  36. Yes, you’re exactly right. Hence this discussion thread

  37. @whatawuss

    yes that’s completely correct, but (hopefully) not for long

    it’s been one of android’s biggest issues, as of right now, most apps seem to be around 1Mb on average so it’s not too big of a problem yet, but when it comes to more advanced games and stuff with lots of sounds, textures, etc., 256 Mb is way too small

  38. whatawuss: right now the apps have to go in the puny space, rather than the ext card, which is why the project above was started. Hopefully they’ll get it going and we can put the apps in the card

  39. I wonder if this is a fix for the ailing G1 memory issue. If there is an option to run apps from SD, the internal memory partition could be expanded to eat up some of that memory saved by this, then we get eclair!

  40. thanks for the responses, guys. do you all think there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll get this app2sd thing working within, say, a year, and we’d be able to get that update OTA?
    i can see this as something the average consumer wouldn’t know about/notice initially, but then down the line get really ticked off at having to deal with such a limitation.

  41. Great news for android lovers !
    today if i had a milestone (not yet announced to france wtf ?) i wouldn’t be able to buy and download tons of music from amazon mp3 to my device right ?

  42. I love the transparency of development on this platform. It is much easier to wait on something when you can read the developers thoughts on the day-to-day progress and issues that need to be overcome. This is in contrast to other platforms where you don’t even know when features will be added or even if they are being worked on at all.
    Having a yet-to-be rooted device such as the CDMA Hero, App2SD is my number one request for improving Android.

  43. Does anyone know if this is something that they are working on for future phones only? Or can this feature also be added to existing phones also like the G1 and the Droid (coming out friday)?

  44. I don’t think paid apps are an issue. Think of how Steam works with games. All the games you have ever bought can be re downloaded on any computer as long as you are signed in with your steam user name, sign in on two computers at the same time and the prior one gets signed off. I’m pretty sure the Google Market works the same way. All your paid apps are tied to your Google account. The app will only work if you are signed in on that phone which is setup when you first activate the phone. If you remove your SD card and put it in a friends phone then all the free apps will work but not the paid ones because your account is not signed in. This should also mean you can carry over your paid apps to a new phone since they are still tied to your Google account.

  45. Avoid the Droid if you don’t want to be annoyed!

    iDon’t have enough memory to store even 2 apps!
    iCopy everything that the iPhone does and think I’m innovative!
    iMitaton is the sincerest form of flattery and Droid loves the iPhone so much, it imitated the entire OS and design!
    i’M so lame I have to peek over Apple’s shoulder to see what they’re doing to come up with an idea for a phone!
    i’M sorry but this is just another so-called “iPhone Killer” that will meet it’s demise before the world even noticed it existed!

  46. @iPhone – Look at Apple’s history and see who they originally copied back in the 80’s…Xerox. Oh and I’m a big apple fan and love my mac’s and their amazing OS but I’m not closed minded where I don’t look at what’s around and what has amazing potential. Watch out because soon, the iphone will be copying things android does. Fortunately, they have some creative minds over at Apple and should be able to one-up Android again. This will go back and forth building some great phone OS’s and I am excited to see the future of these 2 great OS’s. And if you’ve ever used an android phone, you’d know that the OS is vastly different than iphone’s, not just a copycat OS. So keep the ignorant closed minded comments to yourself. Actually don’t cause you will make me look much better in front of everyone.

    To iphone and android! May you both push each other to provide customers with the best possible phones we could dream of and more!

    Good Day!

  47. Well, the only thing I can hope for is that this update can be updated over older models as obviously the Android by the next year would have advanced to probably something like pralines? Mousse?

    P.S. Android has wierd names…..

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