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Android File System: Dumbed-Down Explaination?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by PeteCress, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. PeteCress

    PeteCress Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Aug 12, 2010
    Paoli PA, USA
    I'm probably one of many Jonesing to ditch their iTouch in favor of an Android tablet.

    One of the things I find limiting in Apple's world is the way they keep files. App "A" creates or receives a file (document, photo, whatever) and that file lives only in App A's little world. Apps B and C can't get to it.

    So, the question: Is Android's file system like that? Or is it more analogous to Windows/Linux where there is a common file area and different applications are free to try to open each other's files?


  2. mrsbelpit

    mrsbelpit Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    Android is based on linux, so yes. For a simple example, sending an mms: when I select a picture to send it asks me if I want to use messaging, picasa, dropbox,email,goggles,audio postcard, desktop visualizer,bluetooth, gmail etc etc, so any app involving pics/videos etc automatically is accessible from your gallery.
  3. Guamguy

    Guamguy Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2010
    Android does have a visible file system but some Android install a file manager app like the Galaxy S, but most don't. You can however, find free file managers in the Android Market.

    Files under those third party file managers, if you click on them, they would be opened by the app associated with them, like PDF with Adobe Reader.

    Android Gingerbread now has a universal Download folder where you can see and open all the stuff that's been downloaded. Before that, downloaded files are accessed by one of the browser pages. In any case, Android has a transparent media scanner that scans on the storage and associates files with a parent app that can open them. That's why a music app will know where to find music files, and Adobe Reader knows where to find and open pdf files.

    But there is another ability that you need to look for. Its called interprocess communication or IPC. That means an app has the ability to share information to another app.

    iOS has this but its very limited. So far, Android is the clear champ when it comes to this.

    If a browser for example, can share a web link to any app installed on the phone that is relevant for this, whether its GMail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, MMS, Bluetooth, any Twitter app your installed, Delicious, Instapaper and on and on. Same with the Gallery app, where you can upload any picture to any service that's installed the phone (you don't really need an Instagram equivalent on Android). Apps install these services in a modular fashion to the OS; the OS has no need for updates to incorporate hard wired features like you would need on iOS and Windows Phone 7.

    For example. Brand new, Android won't have the ability to share a picture from the Gallery to Twitter. Install Twitter for Android app, and the service is added to your Android handset or tablet.

    That's why they say Android is open. And modular.

    Another example. You cannot store web links from your browser or tweets from your Twitter app to Evernote for safekeeping. When Seesmic for iOS came out with this particular hard wired feature, they made a big thing out of it.

    Yet, out of the box, every browser, every Twitter app in Android has the ability to send and save links and tweets to Evernote. just like that. The feature don't have to be built in on the app, its taken care by the OS through its IPC.

    Android apps simply have a level of app intercommunication that I don't see on IOS. If an iOS news app has to send a link to Twitter, they have to post it directly, and the dev has to add this feature. In Android they don't have to. They merely utilize the universal share feature, and when you click on the Share button, you have a whole list of apps yo can send your link into. In our example, let's use Twitter for Android to post the link to Twitter.
  4. Demache

    Demache Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Sioux Falls, SD
    The latter. Most apps will store data that isn't specific to the app itself on the memory card. Then other apps can make use of this data if it designed to do so.

    Like I could type up a document or make a sound recording and save it to my SD card. Then use Dropbox to upload it online to my PC or public folder for sharing.
  5. takeshi

    takeshi Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Just to clarify, apps do store their own data that isn't generally accessible to other apps. I.e. email for one app probably won't be accessible to another email app.
    Demache likes this.
  6. Great stuff, Guamguy.
  7. Demache

    Demache Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Sioux Falls, SD
    This is true. Its generally because other apps can't make use of the information though, like the emails are in a specific format for that app in your example.

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