To prevent apps with the broad READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission from accessing sensitive user files, Google introduced Scoped Storage in Android 10. Scoped Storage narrows storage access permissions to encourage apps to only request access to the specific file, types of files, directory, or directories they need, depending on their use case. An app can either use the media store API to access media files stored within well-defined collections, or they can use the Storage Access Framework (SAF) to load the system document picker to let the user pick which files they want to share with that app.
Android’s system document picker app — simply called “Files” — provides a barebones file picking experience. Android 13, however, is introducing a new system photo picker that extends the Files app with a new experience for picking photos and videos. The new system photo picker will help protect photo and video privacy by making it easier for users to pick the specific photos and videos to share with an app. Like the Files app, the new system photo picker can share photos and videos stored locally or on cloud storage.
Apps can use the new photo picker APIs in Android 13 to prompt the user to pick which photos or videos to share with the app, without that app needing permission to view all media files. The new photo picker experience will also roll out to Android devices running Android 11 or higher (excluding Android Go Edition) through an update to the MediaProvider module.