View Full Version : Latest KitKat update for Android will render your SDCard useless

Last year, I was excited about Android's KitKat launch, which seemed a notable leap for the OS...until now. It turns out the newest 4.4.2 version "kills" the external SDCard usability (at least for all 3rd party apps).

How KitKat killed Android... (http://beranger.org/2014/01/30/how-kitkat-4-4-killed-android-and-google-keeps-screwing-things/)
External Blues: Google Has Brought Big Changes To SD Cards In KitKat (http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/02/17/external-blues-google-has-brought-big-changes-to-sd-cards-in-kitkat-and-even-samsung-may-be-implementing-them/)
Is Google’s dominance over Android starting to push everyone away? (http://www.androidbeat.com/2014/02/googles-stronghold-android-starting-push-everyone-away/)

I think this will be an update not everybody will love.

Does this mean that Link2SD will not work with Android KitKat?
I currently have FROYO on a Samsung phone, with a small internal memory, but I have an SD card with most of my apps on it and was considering upgrading to KK - now I'm just confused!
(Mx16 + Cx1 + Lx2) + (Tx5 + Nx2 + Bx33)
Last edited by torres-no-tan-magnifico; 05. Mar 2014 at 02:07 PM. Reason: clarification

Extracted from the "external blues" article (about the new external SD Card permissions):

It’s definitely unfriendly toward many power users, if for no other reason than it the extra hurdles it adds to simple tasks like making backups or cleaning up old files. It’s not that these things won’t still be possible through some other method, but they will become tedious and annoying.

According to the article and the two sources posted in the end, there is still a possibility to move some data to the SD Card, but you will need "alternative methods" (i.e. root access) and even then, there is not much to expect as the 3rd party apps will need to add or change their existing permissions to write to the external storage http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/frown.gif. Some people say they can access or read the SD Card with no problems, but trying to write the slightest kind of data (i.e. creating a folder using a file explorer app) is not an easy task even with root access. (http://forums.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-note-3/364683-note-3-kitkat-update-disabling-use-external-micro-sd-card.html)

I read that even ROMs such as Cyanogenmod or MIUI are having the same problems with this update and that is because they make their respective ROMs based on the AOSP official code, which "officially killed" the SD Card support and apps such as Link2SD, Apps2SD, Move2SD and AppMgr III are useless. I cannot confirm this, but some S4 users are reporting that the apps they moved to the SD Card before updating had to be reinstalled after the KitKat upgrade http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/eek.gif

I am convinced that rooting is a necessary step to gain control of your device, but needing root access for the mere purpose of writing some data to the external card is just a stupid move, especially when you could do that without root in previous versions.

This is really an stupid move by Google. I am already annoyed with the increasing intrusiveness of Google in Android, and I have covered it in this thread:

Android - too much of Google? (http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/mobile-apps/13272-android-too-much-of-google.html#post98394)

and now this is really another annoyance altogether.

I was hoping that this could be easily mended by the ROM developers, but as IO.Hazard posted, if even they are having difficulty dealing with this, then this change would be a real bummer.

I think it's time now that some other mobile OS alternatives come into picture.


Originally Posted by IO.Hazard http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/mobile-apps/13264-latest-kitkat-update-for-android-will-render-your-sdcard-useless.html#post98356)
Last year, I was excited about Android's KitKat launch, which seemed a notable leap for the OS...until now. It turns out the newest 4.4.2 version "kills" the external SDCard usability (at least for all 3rd party apps).

How KitKat killed Android... (http://beranger.org/2014/01/30/how-kitkat-4-4-killed-android-and-google-keeps-screwing-things/)

An interesting subject IO.Hazard.

Based on Android's External Storage Technical Information (http://source.android.com/devices/tech/storage/index.html), it quotes mainly two reasons for restricting writing data in arbitrary directories to the external SD Card:

1. "Since external storage offers minimal protection for stored data, system code should not store sensitive data on external storage. Specifically, configuration and log files should only be stored on internal storage where they can be effectively protected."

2. "Apps must not be allowed to write to secondary external storage devices, except in their package-specific directories as allowed by synthesized permissions. Restricting writes in this way ensures the system can clean up files when applications are uninstalled."

Despite the above reasons, this new restriction on writing in arbitrary directories to the external SD card is unfortunately a disadvantage to users of a device with an SD card slot.

This restriction fortunately does not apply to the primary internal storage, which is treated as an emulated SD Card. Personally I prefer Nexus devices which come with a native Android system, even though such devices as Galaxy Nexus and the latest Nexus 5 don't have a card slot but an internal emulated SD Card. So far good enough for me to use though I always wish to have more. http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/smile.gif

You are correct Jojo Yee. These latest changes should pose no major threat to users with devices without a SD Card slot such as the Nexus 4/5 and a lot of other devices that lack a SD Card (too many to mention).

It is undeniable, though, that this change is a major drawback for power users who bought a device with a card slot because they needed it (CWM, anyone?). Android 3.x (honeycomb) introduced this "emulated" internal SD Card which prevented the access to the external Card. At that time most people thought it was just a bug so they let it go; however, Android 4.1 and up (JellyBean and KitKat) are showing that was not a bug.

As for Google's official explanations, the "How KitKat killed Android" made it very clear (in a very raw way, though):

Of course, the official reason is pure bull****. A lot of apps write in random directories in the internal storage, and nobody cleans up when they’re removed — and the internal storage is much more critical than a ****ing SD card that anyone can erase or even reformat!

(...) Google removed in Android 4.4 the ability for an app to write in arbitrary locations on a true SD card, whereas they can do (if allowed) whatever they want in the internal storage. This is not specifically to kill file managers — although this is one major effect –, but to kill the idea of an added SD card altogether! Google wants you to buy their stupid Nexus phones, designed just like the iPhone, without any support for a SD card! (...) Now Google tries to make any added SD card impractical — so you would stop buying phones with SD card support. Only buy phones from Google, right? Android is less and less of an open system…*

Now a lot of phones have both the "emulated" internal SD Card as well as the real "external" storage, but you cannot install nor move any app to the external storage as Google prevents you from doing it, and I'm not talking about KitKat, but of the latest version of JellyBean (4.2.2). So, unless you have a phone with a lot of internal storage capacity, this change is a bummer since the real user available storage in the internal memory ranges from 60% to 80% because the rest is used by the Android system http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/frown.gif. That's why I consider the SD Card is a must.

Of course this would be a very different story if every single phone out there would have 32, 64 or even 128 GB of space but they have not.

I always complained about changes like this one but then, some weeks later, I saw how developers found a way around http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif. I am confident this could happen again, which would be great! Sadly, I also think that Google will introduce another bunch of changes to the AOSP code once again. http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/images/smilies/mad.gif I hope developers don't get tired of this scheme.