Android may finally be getting native long-form screenshots, commonly referred to as "scrolling screenshots," in next year's release of version 'R' based on a recently noticed Twitter conversation between two Googlers. Involved in the discussion, started as a response to a tweet noting that Google viewed the feature as 'infeasible', were Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke and Android dev Dan Sandler.
According to Mr. Burke, the feature is in the works for Android R and completion by that update's finalization shouldn't be out of the question. The VP also called out Mr. Sandler, who responded with an apparent confirmation that he'd be working on the feature.
What is a scrolling screenshot and why does this seem out of place
The scrolling screenshots in question are already available on many third-party devices, including Samsung flagships and many gadgets from popular OEMs in China and elsewhere. In effect, they extend on the typical screenshot functionality, allowing users to scroll the shot in apps or circumstances where the entire screen isn't visible.
For instance, if a user wanted to capture the screen on Twitter, including several discussions in a thread, they could tap an icon to have the screen scroll. The result is that the final screenshot would be a significantly taller image showing much more than just what was initially on display.
There are some discrepancies between Google and third-parties at this point since the former is calling the feature infeasible at the native system level. It's already been available via APIs to third-party handsets and appears on several as noted above but, oddly enough, the search giant doesn't appear to have any order for how it's adding these kinds of features either.
In the next variant of the world's most popular mobile OS -- simply dubbed 'Android Q' and set to arrive this fall a year before 'R' -- Google is already working to include native video screen recording. That's been in place at the API level since Android 5.0 Lollipop back in 2014 but the change signals the first time it's expected out-of-the-box as an integral part of Android.
So, it looks as though Google will actually be adding in the ability to capture video of what's on-screen before it allows for screenshots that can capture more than what's initially visible during the capture.
...Maybe or not
Scrolling screenshots have a plethora of features on both Android phones and tablets so it's surprising that this hasn't been an integral part of the ecosystem since very early on. The feature allows users to document more of what's going on in an app which can, to give just a couple of examples, enable better logging of app errors or capturing of a conversation that needs to be shared.
None of that means it will necessarily be added in Android R through. Native screen recording may not make the cut in Android Q either since that's still very much a beta feature and Google isn't under any obligation to make sure it's finished in time. From a marketing perspective, it may actually be better for the company to release both features in Android R so there's no guarantee either will arrive anytime soon.
We've added scrollable screenshots to the hopper for Android R and hopefully can land it in that release. Make it so @dsandler :)
— Dave Burke (@davey_burke) May 17, 2019