Android 12 blocks third-party apps from replacing the share sheet
Android Sharesheet is the menu that pops out from the bottom when you hit the share button within an app, listing out all the possible sharing options and ways you can share something across. But as you might have noticed, the UI of the Android Sharesheet can look wildly different from app to app. That’s because Google doesn’t enforce UI consistency for the share sheet, allowing third-party apps and OEMs to customize it to their heart’s content. One of the ways Android users can bypass the Android Sharesheet altogether is by using a third-party app like Sharedr, which offers a more consistent and simpler UI that also does away with Direct Share, which can be quite slow to populate on some devices — despite receiving significant performance boost in Android 11. But as it appears, using a third-party sharesheet as a replacement for the Android sharesheet will not be as easy in Android 12.
In Android 12, Google no longer allows third-party apps to set themselves as the default share sheet. The developer of Sharedr recently opened a ticket on the AOSP bug tracker, detailing that on Android 12, the system was no longer showing the prompt to pick between Sharedr and the Android Sharesheet and would always open the Android Sharesheet by default. Responding to the issue, a Googler confirmed that it was the intended behavior and not a bug. In other words, Google has blocked third-party apps in Android 12 from replacing the sharesheet.
We had never actually intended to allow apps to replace the share dialog, that Intent is for apps to launch the share dialog. Being able to replace the share dialog is also becoming increasingly impossible — you couldn’t implement the direct share part of the UI, nor the personal vs. work profile tabs in R, etc. This is just not something that is feasible to allow apps to replace.
You’ll still be able to use Sharedr and other share sheet alternatives, but the apps themselves can’t respond to the share event, hence you won’t have the option to set them as the default whenever you try to share something. You’ll instead have to select Sharedr in the stock share sheet and then use it to select your target app to share, adding another step in the process. It’s not immediately clear if this new behavior will also prevent Android OEMs from customizing the Android Sharesheet. For example, OEMs like Samsung and LG (RIP) let you disable Direct Share targets from showing up in the sharesheet. To be clear, this issue only applies to Android 12. If you’re running Android 11 or before, you should be able to use Sharedr or other share sheet apps without any issues.
Featured image: Sharedr’s replacement of the Android share sheet