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Google's Extension SDK brings new features to older versions of Android

This is Google's latest attempt at letting older Android versions run newer features.

Published onJanuary 9, 2023

Settings logo on Android phone stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Google released the public version of its Extension Software Developer Kit.
  • Extension SDK allows older versions of Android to use new features.
  • Extension SDK is mostly aimed at developers.

Google has been working on a way to bring updates to core components of Android through the Play Store for years. Its latest attempt at that is releasing a public version of its Extension Software Developer Kit to bring new features to older versions of Android.

According to XDA Developers, Google has made its Extension SDK available to the public. With it, versions of Android 11 and 12 should be able to use newer features that were exclusive to Android 13, like the OS’s new photo picker API.

This is possible due to Google modularizing Android so things like media playback, Wi-Fi, permissions, and more can be updated individually. This gives Google more control over how features are updated.

Before you get too excited, however, it’s important to note that this feature is aimed at developers. So the average user may not see any benefit from Extension SDK being released to the public.

Additionally, the feature is also providing a stage for Google to test its Android Privacy Sandbox, which is expected to launch in beta this year. This Privacy Sandbox is Google’s in-development replacement for its current ad-tracking system. According to XDA Developers, this shows how Extension SDK can deliver new features without the need for a full system update.

Extension SDK isn’t the only time Google has tried to get new features to older OS versions. Back during the Android 10 era, the company created something called Project Mainline — a way to eliminate fragmentation by making it possible to update parts of the OS through the Play Store.

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