News/Tech News

Android Extension SDK Aims to Simplify the Use of Modular System Components

Published on Jan 13, 2023

With the introduction of Android 10, Modular System Components enable end users to update their devices outside of the normal Android release cycle. Now available to the public, the Extension SDK framework simplifies the integration process for developers.

Google plans to leverage API componentization by rolling out the Privacy Sandbox beta to Android 13 devices without having to wait for the next Android release. Moreover, modular components are also intended to backport existing features to devices running older versions of Android. Thanks to Modular System Components, the PhotoPicker API, introduced in Android 13, is available for Android 11 and 12, too.

By using the SDK Extension framework, developers can easily determine whether a given feature is available on a device and conditionally enable its use in their applications. According to the official documentation for the above-mentioned PhotoPicker API, it is available starting with Android 13 as well as on devices running Android R (11) extension 2. Using this information, a developer planning to use the new PhotoPicker API in their application should first verify that the SDK extension version meets the minimum requirements.

Before SDK Extensions, developers could check Build.VERSION.SDK_INT, e.g. if Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= 33, to ensure that a minimum SDK level was available. This check would fail for devices running an SDK level less than 33 with an R extension version greater than 2. It is still correct and supported.

According to Google, the SDK Extensions API will be further integrated with Jetpack Compose to make its use more idiomatic.

The Modular System Components are similar to Google Play Services in that they aim to simplify the updating of Android devices without the need for a new version of the operating system. Modular System Components are part of AOSP, the Android Open Source Platform, whereas Play Services are a proprietary solution available only to Google and licensing partners. As a member of AOSP, modularized system components can also be delivered through a third-party over-the-air infrastructure in addition to Google Play, which will be used by Google and its licensing partners.

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