One of the pillars of Android has always been choice, something that Google loves to repeat whenever it is accused of monopoly or anti-competitive business practices. It is surprising, then, (or not) when Google also takes steps that seemingly take away some of that choice, often in the name of protecting users from themselves. One such example is an upcoming change to Android 11 that is already ruffling the feathers of some Android believers.
Android users probably gloated over the news that Apple, after more than a decade, will finally let users set third-party apps to be the default email and browser apps and only for those apps. In contrast, Android has long allowed users to select their app of choice, especially considering many of the default OEM choices are unimpressive, to say the least. That, however, will no longer be true for camera apps once Android 11 rolls out.
Android Police discovered that if an app asks for photos or videos in Android 11, they will no longer pop up the choice to select which camera app you want to use, presuming you have others installed. Instead, it will automatically launch the built-in camera app that was installed by the manufacturer. In other words, users and app developers don’t really have any choice on that matter anymore.
Google reportedly cites privacy and security, the usual culprits, as the justification for this almost silent change. It doesn’t, however, provide any further explanation, though it’s not hard to imagine how malicious apps took advantage of that functionality and users’ ignorance. There are possible workarounds but they involve more work for both users and developers.
The changes will take supposedly effect in Android 11, regardless of whether the apps requesting the camera target older Android versions. It also isn’t clear whether one can still set a third-party camera app as the default and be respected by Android 11 or if it will always and unequivocally launch the OEM’s camera app and only that.