The storage space in Android 11 ruins the Google Photos experience

If you’re looking to buy an Android 11 phone anytime soon, you should get used to your manufacturer’s gallery app. If you want to use Google Photos for something that isn’t a Pixel, you’ll need to confirm each and every item that you want to delete from the app. The reason for this is a new, well-intentioned policy in the operating system that leaves some annoying consequences for end users.

What’s happening?

Here’s what it looks like if you’re currently deleting pictures and movies in Google Photos for most users.

You press the trash can icon, see a toast prompt at the bottom of the screen, tap “Move to Trash” to confirm, and the media is moved to the app’s trash, where it is saved for 60 days before being completely removed from your device is deleted. You can also go to the Library tab and look in the Trash folder to manually delete these images. This experience is pretty consistent across devices.

Now let’s take a look at what you’ll see on your new non-Pixel phone running Android 11, as shown in


You will see the Toast prompt on your new device. In this new dialog box on the left, you’ll find the content you want to move to the Trash, as well as options to allow or deny photos the privilege to move that content to the Trash.

But it’s not just that: if you’re using the app on a second device – maybe a tablet or your desktop computer – and want to toss something that was recorded on your new phone to the trash when you put the new phone back in Take your hand and jump into photos, you will be informed about “unsynchronized changes” and you have to give the app permission to move the items to the trash.

The same thing happens when you take a photo from your Android 11 device and edit it on another.

Why does it happen

The short answer is “storage scoped” or, more specifically, the MediaStorage API. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry, the long answer is for that.

Scope of storage originally intended for Android 10 but delayed after a game from app developers. In short, this policy would create a new permissions structure for apps to access different levels of your system storage that come from an app’s dedicated directory and go all the way up to full storage access. That way, apps won’t scan every file on your hard drive by default like they did before Android 11, and it would benefit users’ privacy. Android sets this policy by providing the existing MediaStorage API with some new tools to work with and rules that need to be enforced, such as: For example, setting up permission prompts when an app wants to move a file from one location to another on the hard drive and set up a system recycle bin where files are kept for 30 days so they can possibly be restored before they are deleted .

However, some system apps are not subject to these rules. Every Android device has a number of standard apps, such as: For a launcher or for messaging, and they can perform privileged tasks, e.g. B. Writing data to disk as a background operation. Users have the option to change them in their system settings and they behave with this elevated status.

With Android 11 came a new standard slot for gallery apps. However, a source at Google that we spoke to tells us that this slot is not user-selectable and is almost always blocked by the OEMs for their own gallery app. Galleries are not a default app category that appears in your settings. Even if you disable the OEM gallery app, the system will consider it the default. That said, if you have a OnePlus phone, only the OnePlus Gallery app can move files to the trash without specifically asking you to allow or deny them.

And so there is the problem with Google Photos. With the exception of Pixels and other phones, which are the default gallery app, the company subjects its integral, ubiquitous cloud personal media storage service to the same restrictive storage rules as any other traditional app.

What can be done about it?

While this is a respectable decision by the platform’s umpire, we really want to see here that end users can choose which gallery app they want to use by default – a lot of people like the flexibility and ease Photos offers when managing their camera rolls. It shouldn’t have to be crippled with a permission prompt after the permission prompt in Android 11. Users shouldn’t have to give it up.

It may not be a popular move with phone manufacturers, but unlike other policy areas, Google has the one-sided power to make gallery apps a selectable standard for its own interests and the overall user experience.

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