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Android 11 (API level 30) further enhances the platform, giving betterprotection to app and user data on external storage. This release introducesseveral enhancements, such as opt-in raw file path access for media, batch editoperations for media, and an updated UI for the Storage Access Framework.

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The release also offers improvements to scopedstorage, which makes it easier fordevelopers to fulfill their storage usecases after they migrate to using thisstorage model.

Scoped storage enforcement

Apps that run on Android 11 but target Android 10(API level 29) can still request therequestLegacyExternalStorageattribute. This flag allows apps to temporarily opt out of thechanges associatedwith scoped storage, such as granting access to different directories anddifferent types of media files. After you update your app to targetAndroid 11, the system ignores the requestLegacyExternalStorageflag.

Maintain compatibility with Android 10


If your app opts out of scoped storage when running on Android 10 devices, it'srecommended that you continue to set requestLegacyExternalStorage to true inyour app's manifest file. That way, your app can continue to behave as expectedon devices that run Android 10.

Migrate data to directories that are visible when using scoped storage


If your app uses the legacy storage model and previously targeted Android 10 orlower, you might be storing data in a directory that your app cannot access whenthe scoped storage model is enabled.Before you target Android 11, migratedata to a directorythat's compatible with scoped storage.

Test scoped storage

To enable scoped storage in your app, regardless of your app's target SDKversion and manifest flag values, enable the following app compatibility flags:

  • DEFAULT_SCOPED_STORAGE(enabled for all apps by default)
  • FORCE_ENABLE_SCOPED_STORAGE(disabled for all apps by default)

To disable scoped storage and use the legacy storage model instead,unset both flags.

Manage device storage

Starting in Android 11, apps that use the scoped storage modelcan access only their own app-specific cache files. If your app needs to managedevice storage, follow the instructions on how to query freespace.

  1. Check for free space by invoking theACTION_MANAGE_STORAGE intent action.
  2. If there isn't enough free space on the device, prompt the user to give yourapp consent to clear all caches. To do so, invoke theACTION_CLEAR_APP_CACHE intent action.

    Caution: The ACTION_CLEAR_APP_CACHE intent action can substantially affectdevice battery life and might remove a large number of files from thedevice.

App-specific directory on external storage

Starting in Android 11, apps cannot create their ownapp-specific directory on external storage. Toaccess the directory that the system provides for your app, callgetExternalFilesDirs().

Media file access

To make it easier to access media while retaining user privacy,Android 11 adds the following capabilities.

Perform batch operations

For consistency across devices and added user convenience,Android 11 adds several methods that make it easier to managegroups of media files.

Access files using direct file paths and native libraries

To help your app work more smoothly with third-party media libraries,Android 11 allows you to use APIs other than theMediaStore API to accessmedia files from shared storage using direct filepaths. These APIsinclude the following:

  • The File API.
  • Native libraries, such as fopen().

Access to data from other apps

To protect user privacy, on devices that run Android 11 orhigher, the system further restricts your app's access to other apps' privatedirectories.

Access to data directories on internal storage

Android 9 (API level 28) started to restrict which apps could make the files intheir data directories on internalstorage world-accessible to otherapps. Apps that target Android 9 or higher cannot make the files in their datadirectoriesworld-accessible.

Android 11 expands upon this restriction. If your app targetsAndroid 11, it cannot access the files in any other app's datadirectory, even if the other app targets Android 8.1 (API level 27) or lower andhas made the files in its data directory world-readable.

Access to app-specific directories on external storage

On Android 11, apps can no longer access files in any otherapp's dedicated, app-specificdirectory within externalstorage.

Document access restrictions

To give developers time for testing, the following changes related to theStorage Access Framework (SAF) take effect only if your app targetsAndroid 11 or higher.

Access to directories


You can no longer use theACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT_TREEintent action to request access to the following directories:

  • The root directory of the internal storage volume.
  • The root directory of each SD card volume that the device manufacturerconsiders to be reliable, regardless of whether the card is emulated orremovable. A reliable volume is one that an app can successfully access most ofthe time.
  • The Download directory.

Access to files

You can no longer use theACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT_TREEor theACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENTintent action to request that the user select individual files from thefollowing directories:

  • The Android/data/ directory and all subdirectories.
  • The Android/obb/ directory and all subdirectories.

Test the change

To test this behavior change, do the following:

  1. Invoke an intent with the ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT action. Check that theAndroid/data/ and Android/obb/ directories both don't appear.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Enable theRESTRICT_STORAGE_ACCESS_FRAMEWORKapp compatibility flag.
    • Target Android 11 or higher.
  3. Invoke an intent with the ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT_TREE action. Check that theDownload directory appears and the action button associated with the directoryis grayed out.


Android 11 introduces the following changes related to storagepermissions.

Target any version

The following changes take effect in Android 11, regardless of your app's target SDK version:

  • The Storage runtime permission is renamed to Files & Media.
  • If your app hasn't opted out of scoped storage and requests the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission, users see a different dialog compared to Android 10. The dialog indicates that your app is requesting access to photos and media, as shown in Figure 1.

    Users can see which apps have the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission in system settings. On the Settings > Privacy > Permission manager > Files and media page, each app that has the permission is listed under Allowed for all files. If your app targets Android 11, keep in mind that this access to 'all files' is read-only. To read and write to all files in shared storage using this app, you need to have the all files access permission.


Target Android 11

If your app targets Android 11, both theWRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission and the WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE privilegedpermission no longer provide any additional access.

Keep in mind that, on devices that run Android 10 (API level 29) or higher, yourapp can contribute to well-defined media collections such asMediaStore.Downloads without requesting any storage-related permissions. Learnmore about how to request only the necessarypermissions whenworking with media files in your app.

All files access

The majority of apps that require shared storage access can follow the bestpractices for sharing mediafiles and sharing non-mediafiles. However, someapps have a core use case that requires broad access of files on a device, butcannot do so efficiently using the privacy-friendly storage best practices.Android provides a special app access called All files access for thesesituations. To learn more, see the guide on how to manage allfiles on a storage device.

Additional resources

For more information about changes to storage in Android 11, view the followingmaterials:

Blog posts


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Android devices in the field can receive and install over-the-air (OTA) updates to the system, application software, and time zone rules. This section describes the structure of update packages and the tools provided to build them. It is intended for developers who want to make OTA updates work on new Android devices and those who want to build update packages for released devices.

OTA updates are designed to upgrade the underlying operating system, the read-only apps installed on the system partition, and/or time zone rules; these updates do not affect applications installed by the user from Google Play.

A/B (Seamless) system updates

Modern Android devices have two copies of each partition (A and B) and can apply an update to the currently unused partition while the system is running but idle. A/B devices do not need space to download the update package because they can apply the update as they read it from the network; this is known as streaming A/B. For more information about OTA updates for A/B devices, see A/B (Seamless) System Updates. For a sample app that provides examples on using Android system update APIs (i.e., update_engine) to install A/B updates, refer to SystemUpdaterSample (app details available in updater_sample/

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Non-A/B system updates

Older Android devices have a dedicated recovery partition containing the software needed to unpack a downloaded update package and apply the update to the other partitions. For more information, see Non-A/B System Updates.

Time zone rule updates

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As of Android 8.1, OEMs can push updated time zone rules data to devices without requiring a system update. This mechanism enables users to receive timely updates (thus extending the useful lifetime of an Android device) and OEMs to test time zone updates independently of system image updates. For details, see Time Zone Rules.