Android Apps on SD Card: The Details

As you may or may not know, Android 2.2 added the ability to officially install your apps onto your SD card. No longer are you limited by the internal memory of your phone, but instead by the greater (usually) capacity of your SD card.

Well Tim Bray has posted an article by Suchi Amalapurapu, an engineer who worked on this feature over on the Android Developers blog. It’s a fairly technical read aimed at developers, but there is a useful paragraph on the positives and negatives of installing apps to your SD card:

“The advantage of installing on SD card is easy to understand: contention for storage space is reduced. There are costs, the most obvious being that your app is disabled when the SD card is either removed or in USB Mass Storage mode; this includes running Services, not just interactive Activities. Aside from this, device removal disables an application’s Widgets, Input methods, Account Managers, Device administrators, Live wallpapers, and Live folders, and may require explicit user action to re-enable them.”

[via android dev blog]

  • mark

    What a waste of time, no point in even reading this article. Why? Google don’t even allow it on their apps let alone any other devs,out of over 200 apps 16 would allow it. Fail!

  • Dan

    Do you mean to say, if I install an App on my SD card and then remove the card it will no longer be available to my phone?

    That is- just like every other removable media device in existence, even the old 1.44mb floppy drives that came in 198’s desktops?

    Wow – this is what I call cutting-edge reporting!

  • Jcaurus

    Am I reading the same article as everyone else? I’m more worried about the disabled widgets & features…
    …or am I understanding this incorrectly?

  • mega

    “may require explicit user action to re-enable them..” – major fail!… all these cons should be completely optional. It should be optional if you wan’t to treat sd memory as internal memory. I want to be able to have an android phone with the same or more memory than an iphone, thats the whole idea for me with the memory card. I thought froyo would finally solve it. I am shocked to read that the implementation has any cons at all. It’s not like I can buy a more expensive android phone with more internal memory, even if I wanted and say don’t care about the additional cost. Now i’m stuck with 385mb internal memory on my htc desire, and froyo will just bring me more memory, but with limitations. I hope companies will release 16 and 32gb internal memory models of their android phones in future then. This is very bad news for me…

  • blogger

    This will help reduce clutter and save space on my internal memory.

  • QDOG8

    Would another con of moving apps to an SD card be slow app launch times? It seems like it would make sense for an app saved on an SD card to launch slower than an app saved on the internal memory. Can someone please tell me if I’m correct or not?

  • Oliver Pansoff

    @QDOG8, I can definitely say from experience that it is the case that apps running on external memory are significantly slower when it comes to memory access ie load times/launch times. It’s very annoying to have to go through all this just to have comparable memory space as an Iphone. =/ guess whose going back when apple drops another new phone, this guy =D

  • QDOG8

    @Oliver Pansoff when launching and closing apps, I get comparable speeds to the iPhone on my G2-but that’s with apps saved onto the eternal memory. I only asked because I didn’t know what the point of saving apps to the SD card was., and it looks like the only reason to do it would be because of people running out of space on the eternal memory. Since the G2 has 2GB (more than enough for me), I’m going to keep my apps on the eternal memory and keep the speed boost. That’s the good thing about Android-you have options. You don’t get things like those on the fruityPhone.