Google is taking one other shot at bringing new options to telephones that haven’t gotten OS updates in years. It’s releasing one thing known as the “Extension Software Developer Kit,” which ought to let builders use options like Android 13’s new picture picker in apps working on some variations of Android 11 and 12. In a weblog publish saying the change, the corporate says the function lets it “extend the support of certain platform functionality to existing Android versions.”

While extra entry to the picture picker beforehand unique to Android 13 is certainly good, Google appears to have a lot greater plans for the Extension SDK. “This update also sets the stage for expanding Privacy Sandbox testing on Android,” says Scott Westover, a Google spokesperson. Privacy Sandbox is Google’s in-progress substitute for its present ad-tracking system, and the corporate is planning to roll out the beta for the system on Android 13.

So far, Google isn’t speaking about backporting Privacy Sandbox to older variations of the OS. Instead, it looks like the Extension SDK will assist the corporate replace Privacy Sandbox on newer variations of Android with out having to place out main OS updates. The weblog makes use of the take a look at for instance of how having the ability to introduce new options outdoors of main updates “allows faster innovations.”

The method this works is difficult, and the weblog publish saying the information is especially aimed on the builders who will truly be making use of the system. The TL;DR is that Google’s been laying groundwork for years that lets it replace core elements of Android by means of the Play Store. Now, it’s making the most of that system to make modifications to the APIs that builders use and giving them new methods to examine what the system is able to. In the picture picker instance, a developer may have their code examine to see whether or not the consumer’s Android 11 cellphone has a sufficiently up to date API — and use the brand new picture picker if it does.

This is simply the newest effort from Google to guarantee that customers can nonetheless get new options, even when the corporate that made their cellphone isn’t releasing software program updates. (Something I deeply admire as somebody who simply purchased a cellphone that can probably keep caught on Android 11.) With Android 10, the corporate launched “Project Mainline,” which is supposed to make it in order that some components of the OS may very well be up to date by means of the Play Store. Mainline itself adopted Android 8’s Project Treble, which XDA Developers says was meant to make it simpler for cellphone producers to push out updates.

We’ve truly seen this work repay. Some of Android’s programs for controlling issues like media playback, Wi-Fi, permissions, and even the Android Runtime itself have been modularized, giving Google extra management over how they’re up to date. And the corporate has taken to rolling out new options like digital state ID playing cards (which may theoretically be used on gadgets working Android 8) by way of Google Play Services, which will get updates by means of the Play Store, as a substitute of level releases to Android itself.

As for this newest effort, there’ll virtually definitely be limits. For one, it’s not like Google made every thing modular in Android 10. Each OS replace has added new modules — Android 12 modularized ART and scheduling, whereas Android 13 turned issues like Bluetooth, AppSearch, and UWB into elements. If you’re on Android 11, it wouldn’t be as simple for Google so as to add options for these programs to your cellphone as a result of they’re nonetheless constructed into the OS reasonably than being items that may be up to date by way of the Play Store.

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