App installation on external storage media
The Android platform now allows applications to request installation onto the device's external storage media (such as the SD card), as an alternative to installation onto the device's internal memory.
Application developers can express the preferred installation location for their applications by means of a new attribute of in the manifest file, android:installLocation. The attribute supports three values: "internalOnly", "preferExternal", and "auto". At install time, the system checks the value of android:installLocation and installs the application .apk according to the preferred location, if possible. If the application has requested external installation, the system installs it into a private, encrypted partition in the external media. Once an application .apk is installed externally, the system lets the user change the storage location of the .apk and move it onto the device's internal memory if needed (and vice versa), through Manage Applications in the user settings.
By default, the system installs all applications onto the device's internal memory, except for those that explicitly request external installation. This means that the system will always install legacy applications onto internal memory, since they do not have access to the android:installLocation attribute. However, it is possible to configure and compile a legacy application such that it is installed internally on older versions of the platform and externally on Android 2.2 and later platforms, if necessary.
Note that requesting installation onto the device's external media is not suitable for all applications, particularly because the external media may be removable and unmounting/remounting may disrupt the user experience and system settings.
For more information about setting a preferred install location for your application, including a discussion of what types of applications should and should not request external installation, please read the App Install Location document.