If the internal memory is so precious why doesn't Android move the apps to the SD card automatically. I just don't get the logic of searching through the All Apps list one by one to get a couple of apps that are only installed on the internal memory and then move them to the SD card.

In my opinion is a rather lazy memory management that relies on user intervention to free up space for important OS operations.

  • You're asking us to read the minds of the Android developers?
    – ale
    Dec 15, 2011 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


I can only speculate, as this is something that can really only be answered by an Android engineer, but off the top of my head I can think of a few reasons they might have decided on this:

  • It's less confusing for end users, since I certainly wouldn't expect apps to magically show up on my SD card after I install them (especially for users coming from versions of Android prior to 2.2, when this feature didn't exist yet).
  • It allows the user to manage their storage however they see fit, which can be relevant in some cases since you can't access SD apps when your external storage is unmounted. Maybe I don't want some apps on my SD card because I always want to access them, but Android has no way of inferring this, really. Otherwise you might unexpectedly be unable to use an app you wanted because you didn't know it was on the external storage.
  • Many apps can't be installed to the SD card, so how do you handle a situation where you want to install an app that must be on internal storage but it won't fit? Do you arbitrarily bump another app onto the SD card instead? What if that's not what the user wants (like above)? It could get a little sticky.
  • Some apps, confusingly, allow you to move them to your external storage despite the fact that it breaks certain features. Pandora, notably, could be moved to external storage even though it breaks the widget (I don't know if it still allows this). How do you handle that situation? Do you forcibly move it anyway, possibly breaking the user's widget?
  • Agreed. Android is more oriented towards user control than, say, iOS. Android managing this automatically would not be something I would expect or appreciate :P Dec 14, 2011 at 18:02
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    Talking about confusing users, what about a completely new user who is using a smartphone for the first time and after downloading a good dozen applications he receives a message telling him he's getting out of space. His first reaction could be buying a bigger flash card, to his surprise it doesn't change a thing, then he has to refer to documentation or take the phone back to the shop where they will explain that he will have to do the clean up himself only to find out that despite that 32GB flash card he still receives that message after downloading around 30 apps. Android should take care
    – rcb
    Dec 15, 2011 at 15:04
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    With the default 150MB of free storage in my internal memory, I would expect the OS to infer that I will need to use the GBs I bought to store apps, otherwise you are restricted to just few dozen apps. What I mean is, nobody really expected that an Android phone would operate in the real world with out a flash card of at least 4GB. If that is so, why not providing automatic features to move things on a need basis. I don't know you but unmounting storage in my phone would happen only if I open the back compartment and take the battery out, how often I do it, well a couple of times per year.
    – rcb
    Dec 15, 2011 at 15:11
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    I think that what the "user" really wants is for its phone to work without worrying about moving apps between the internal and external memory. By the way internal or external, in the practice for average users is just the same thing since the external one is not going to be unmounted unless you want to upgrade it. I don't see my self switching off the phone swapping flash cards just to access a new set of apps. I'd rather buy a bigger card and fit everything inside.
    – rcb
    Dec 15, 2011 at 15:16
  • @rcb: Your storage gets unmounted if you plug your device into a computer to transfer files (excepting 3.0+ which uses MTP). I do this frequently, so yes, I do unmount my SD card a lot. Again, all I'm doing is speculating. If you're looking for an authoritative answer then you'll have to ask Google. Dec 15, 2011 at 15:18

I just discovered I was barking to the wrong tree, it is not the OS fault is a wrong choice for hardware design (obviously driven by economic factors). Since the Operating System is taking most of the 512 or 570MB of my phone's internal memory I'm left with the dribbling of moving apps from the phone to the SD Card. I just checked other manufacturers' phones and they come with 1-16GB of internal memory or even more! (Samsung's Galaxy S II), SD card is effectively just an external/supplementary storage.

With more internal memory available there is no need to move application anymore.

Thanks for your comments.

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