Scrolling screenshots set to finally become native to Android with version 12

It might surprise you but Android doesn’t natively support scrolling screenshots.

Yes, those long (and annoying) screenshots people share on social media every other time have actually been the result of customizations made by device makers in the various custom versions of Android they release to users with their devices.

Device makers like Samsung, for instance, have had the feature on their devices for at least 8 years now, starting with the trendsetting Galaxy S4.

Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei, the Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix etc) and many others have since followed up with their own takes that work just as well; meaning that for many users of Android devices around the world, it has always appeared, for at least half a decade, that Android has the feature.

For a brief moment last year, the scrolling screenshots feature was on course to making it to the platform as a native feature with the release of Android 11 as it had been included in the developer preview of Android 11 early last year only for it to not make it to the final release that started being seeded to users later that year.

This addition is part of several new features detailed in the latest beta release of Android 12, the upcoming new version of Android that is currently under public testing.

Users of Google’s Pixel devices (third, fourth and fifth generation) that are signed up to the Android 12 public beta can experience scrolling screenshots by upgrading to beta 3, which is currently rolling out.

There are no guarantees that any of the non-Pixel smartphones that are part of the Android 12 beta will be receiving beta 3 but, for users that have the beta running on those said devices, they can always check with their respective device makers for the details on the same – where we are in the know, we will share the news.

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Android 12 beta 3 features

In addition to the scrolling screenshots feature, a number of new features and improvements to existing features are also making their way to Android 12, to add on to the features that we were made aware of a few months ago at Google I/O and back in February when Android 12 was announced.

One of the features that various Android device makers have been trying with varying levels of success and failure over the years has been improved on-device search. With users increasingly conscious of the data that their devices transmit to faraway services, there has never been a time where people are much more interested in finding things on their devices without having to rely on a connection. There’s also the bit about data savings, for us in Kenya and elsewhere where data prices are a concern.

What will make the on-device search in Android 12 something that all users should care about even though they have been using variations of the same on their devices for years, is that Google has opened up the interface that makes this possible to developers and they can bake on-device search into their apps so that, with a single search, one can access everything everywhere, including on individual non-Google non-device manufacturer apps.

Another feature that is seeing some much-deserved love is the auto-rotate function on our devices. Do we ever give it much thought and wish it became better? Personally, once I got past using basic Android devices with resource issues (RAM, processor setbacks and glitchy UIs), which, obviously, had you pausing to wait for the device to switch from portrait to landscape, I forgot all about it and only turn to it from time to time when I need it – and, it always, just works!

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Not Google, though. Google is making auto-rotate better.

In Android 12 beta 3, and, hopefully, going forward, devices will use face auto-detection (thanks to the front-facing camera) to determine how one is interacting with their screen and decide if the screen should be rotated. So, those moments when you’re just lying on the couch and, all of a sudden, your device switches to landscape mode when you’re just scrolling Twitter minding your business, will be no more. The device will be able to accurately tell that you’re still in a position where that is unnecessary.

Google also says that latency, that time lag between when you switch positions and when the screen reacts to that (switching to landscape from portrait or vice-versa), has improved with a reduction of at least 25%

Fingers crossed that this, and other features highlighted here, doesn’t end up being one of those Pixel-only features.

Android 12 brings with it sweeping changes to the Android experience, including the biggest overhaul of the user interface in Android’s entire existence. Check out all the other features here.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com