Android 12 Beta 3 lands today, and chief among the changes Google has announced with this latest release is one we have been waiting actual, literal years for. In 2019, Google called it “infeasible,” but a single question from the audience at Google I/O overruled that decision. Hidden signs of it appeared in Android 11 before Google pushed back development. It was spotted again in an early Android 12 preview. And now, on Wednesday, July 14th, Google has made one of stock Android’s longest-requested features a reality. We got scrolling screenshots, guys.
SCROLLING SCREENSHOTS. (Now I can’t wait for Apple to invent it in 2026.)
The feature will apparently look like the images above depict, with a “capture more” button that expands your view. Ostensibly, Google’s first-party solution won’t have the sorts of bugs and issues that some other third-party scrolling screenshots do, as well. Hence the delays: Google wanted to do this right. In Dan Sandler’s (very important Android person) prior words:
“Rather than cranking out a quick hack that works for one or two hand-picked apps on a particular device, our goal on the platform team is to build this in a way that any app can plug into…”
Let’s hope the years of buildup have made the feature the very best it can be.
The new face-based autorotation harnesses the front-facing camera rather than just the accelerometer, taking into account how you’re looking at your phone to decide whether you’re likely to expect landscape or portrait. It’s opt-in if you’re worried about privacy, and all processed on-device, available for the Pixel 4 and later. But Google has also taken the time to generate an improved machine learning-based system for normal, plebeian, non-camera autorotation, so it’s up to 25% faster, too.
The new and improved on-device search will let apps index data in a way that you can search through and which other apps can also access, should you let them. It supports multiple languages and relevancy, almost like Google Search itself as applied to the contents of your phone and apps — sounds snazzy, but Google’s been known to talk itself up, so we’ll see how it works in real life. (Though if there’s one thing Google knows really and truly well, it’s Search.)
Other improvements include some tweaks to the privacy indicators which rolled out in Android 12 Beta 2 for better full-screen/”immersive mode” support. The new camera and microphone toggles can also be configured with enterprise management, plus a few other developer-oriented tweaks.
Joining the recently announced gaming features including the much–leaked game dashboard and the ability to play games while they’re being downloaded, Google’s also rolling out new (and, again, previously leaked) Game Mode APIs, better standardizing the system so many other manufacturers have all independently created.
Inching closer to release, though Google told us previously there would be another release candidate build after Beta 4 not depicted here.
As usual, we may see a few unannounced changes or hidden features in this latest release, but as we inch closer to stable, it’s less and less likely, and we’re getting pretty close now. Google considers the next version, Beta 4, as being the “Platform Stability” release — that means under-the-hood SDK and API tweaks will be mostly finalized for developers, and that also means Google will probably switch from “new feature” mode to “fix the last bugs” mode, so the flood of new features will likely be a bare trickle then.
On that note, developers: Get your rear in gear. Test your apps now against Beta 3, so you’ve got all the issues ironed out by the time Android 12 launches later this summer/fall.
Android 12 Beta 3 should be available for the usual Pixel devices (3-series and later), with other OEMs likely to follow with their own beta/preview releases (which may not match Beta 3 for features, sometimes they’re at a lag). Pixel owners still have the easiest time, though, as they can simply opt-in on the Android Beta Program online. However, Beta 3 is also available for Android TV if you have an ADT-3 developer kit, and you can also play with it in the Android Emulator.