Google's new version of scoped storage was supposed to launch in Android 11. But instead, it's delayed until 2021.
With Android 10 last year, Google tried to bring in scoped storage, but it was a headache for developers. This was a better way to access storage, as it was more restrictive and secure. Google had a new "all files access" permission for Android 11, however, due to the pandemic that won't be debuting in Android 11. Likely being pushed back until Android 12 next year.
The full storage access permission will still be going away in Android 11, however. And apps that really need the full storage access, will ned to add this permission after getting permission from Google. Which means that Google is going to be taking a deeper look at why an app needs that much access. That's going to be a good thing for users, but a nuisance for developers.
Why did COVID-19 cause this permission to be delayed?
Google doesn't explicitly say why COVID-19 caused this permission addition to be delayed, just that "due to COVID-19 related conditions".
Google does say that this functionality will be available in early 2021, so there's that. And the temporary uploading restriction only affects apps that are targeting both Android 11 and requesting the all files access permission. Which is likely going to be very few apps.
The company also notes that if you do need the all files access for your app, it is recommended not to update your app to target Android 11 or API level 30 at this time.
COVID-19 has messed up a lot of things all around the world, and it's likely that since the Android team has been working remotely (as has all of Google) since March. That might have slowed down development on some features within Android 11. However, with Google saying it'll be available in early 2021, it looks like it could be coming with a Pixel feature drop, or a point update to Android 11. And not necessarily coming in Android 12, which would be a full year away.
While it's unfortunate for developers that needed to use this permission in their app, it isn't going to affect all developers. Or even the majority of developers. It's only delayed, and thankfully, Google isn't delaying Android 11 as a whole. Because of this permission. So that's definitely a good thing. Hopefully we'll see it in the spring of 2021, and apps that need it will be updated pretty quickly thereafter.