Google’s bringing new features to older versions of Android


Google is adding new features to phones that haven’t updated their OS in years. Released what it calls an “Extension Software Developer Kit” that will allow developers to use features like Android 13’s new photo picker in apps running on some versions of Android 11 and 12. doing. It “extends support for specific platform features to the existing Android version of him.”

While it’s certainly nice to have more access to the photo picker, which was previously limited to Android 13, Google seems to have bigger plans for the extension SDK. “This update also sets the stage for expanded testing of privacy sandboxes on Android,” said Google spokesperson Scott Westover. Privacy Sandbox is a replacement for Google’s current ad-tracking system underway, and the company plans to roll out a beta version of the system on his Android 13.

So far, Google has not talked about backporting the privacy sandbox to older versions of the OS. Instead, the Extension SDK appears to help the company update its privacy sandbox on new versions of Android without rolling out a major update for his OS. This blog uses this test as an example of how being able to introduce new features outside of major updates “enables faster innovation.”

The mechanics of this are complex, and the blog post announcing this news is primarily aimed at developers working with the system. TL;DR, Google has laid the groundwork for years to allow updates to the core components of Android through the Play Store. We are now leveraging that system to change the APIs used by developers to provide new ways to see the system’s capabilities. In the photopicker example, the developer checks the code to see if the user’s Android 11 smartphone’s API has been updated enough, and if so the new photo-her picker can be used. increase.

XDA developer It was intended to make it easier for mobile phone manufacturers to push updates.

We’ve actually seen this work pay off. Some of Android’s systems for controlling things like media playback, Wi-Fi, permissions, and even the Android runtime itself have been modularized, giving Google more control over how they’re updated. increase. The company also announced that new features such as the Digital State ID Card (which can theoretically be used on devices running Android 8) will be made available through Google Play Services, which gets updates through the Play Store rather than through point releases to Android itself. are expanding.

There are almost certainly limitations when it comes to this latest effort. For one thing, Google didn’t modularize everything with Android 10. New modules were added with each OS update. Android 12 modularized ART and scheduling, and Android 13 turned Bluetooth, AppSearch, UWB, etc. into components. If you’re using Android 11, it’s not so easy for Google to add these system features to your phone. This is because these systems are built into the OS rather than parts that can be updated via the Play Store.


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