Google might make the share menu updateable through Play Services
As mature as Android has become, there is one thing Google still hasn’t managed to nail 100%: The system share sheet. While its basic functionality is good enough for seamlessly transferring content or files from one app to another, its intelligent features and its rigid structure make for an unintuitive experience all too often. Google has long been working on improving the share sheet, but since it can only be updated with a new Android version, progress is rather slow. It looks like the company is considering unbundling the share menu from system updates, with Android 14 the earliest candidate for such a change.
Esper’s Mishaal Rahman spotted that Google developed an experimental, hidden copy of the share sheet that resides within Android 13. It’s visually and functionally identical to the share sheet that currently exists, but in contrast to it, it’s a mainline module. That means that it’s decoupled from Android itself and thus updateable via the Play Services, like the Bluetooth stack or networking components. While Google hasn’t confirmed that this is what it intends to do with the share sheet, it’s clear that the company is working towards that goal. This would mean that the share sheet could be updated and improved much more rapidly.
Since Google retains more control over system components updateable via the Play Services, this new approach would also mean a more consistent experience across phones from different manufacturers. While share sheets on all Google-sanctioned Android devices need to adhere to certain standards, the functionality and the design vary widely. If Google turns the share sheet into a mainline module, this would likely mean less control for manufacturers over this system aspect, potentially leaving them with minor theming options only. This could have another benefit as it makes it easier for customers to switch between phones.
The most likely candidate for this feature is Android 14, though given that we don’t have a beta or even a developer preview of it just yet, it remains to be seen whether Google manages to ship this new approach to the system share sheet with the next version of Android.