August 5, 2010 | by Lars Aronsson
If you finally have gotten your much-awaited OTA Froyo update, after obsessively having pressed the “Check now” button for a couple of hours (at least that’s what I did), there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you start using the new Move to SD feature.
We recently did a tutorial on how to make Android install apps to the memory card by default, and we also discussed that some apps shouldn’t be installed to the external storage. Because when you mount your phone as a disk drive, the Android system will no longer have access to software installed on the memory card.
If you have apps on the SD card that are loaded automatically when you start your phone, they will also be launched later than applications located on the internal storage, since it will take a while for the card to be ready: ever noticed that “Preparing SD card” message in the notification bar? One would think that Android should make sure that the SD is available before giving you access to the UI, like most other mobile platforms, but that’s not how it’s currently done.
This is especially a problem when using widgets. Homescreen replacements like LauncherPro will not be able to load widgets installed on the SD card when you boot your device – not even if you restart the launcher itself. Developers have started to acknowledge this issue, like Snaptic, who blocked its notes app 3banana from being installed to the SD in a recent update, as the bundled widget would not load otherwise.
Since the Froyo update will preserve your existing data (unless you’re really unlucky), all your installed apps will still be there waiting for you on your internal storage after the upgrade. You move apps to the SD card from Settings > Applications > Manage applications. Press on an app in any of the first three tabs, and then tap the Move to SD card button to make the transfer. But what’s the easiest way to know which apps to move and which to keep? Thanks to a great tip from a reader, I discovered a nifty little system tool called SDMove.
SDMove will display a list of your installed apps and color code them, as explained in the app’s About box:
To move an app, simply tap on it in the list and SDMove will take you to the Application info screen for that app, from where you can perform the transfer to the SD by the press of a button. This really simplifies the process and helps out a lot. I have some objections, however. First off, SDMove doesn’t even list half of my installed apps. I’m not sure why, and fortunately I haven’t heard any other users reporting this issue. It would also have been convenient with a “Move all that can be moved” button, but hopefully that option will be implemented in a future update.
A few final notes: no private user data is ever stored on the SD card, even if the app that created it is, and to prevent piracy, apps installed to your external memory is encrypted in a way that only allows them to be used on your phone – if you remove the card and put it in another device, they will be unattainable.
Update: Another system tool for moving apps to the SD card is App 2 SD (move apps to SD).