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Android 4.4 Tip: Screen Recording Takes Screenshots to a New Level

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Does anyone remember how long it took for the Android team to include native screenshot taking without root in Android? I believe it wasn’t until Android 4.0 that one could take a screenshot without needing root and a 3rd party application or the Android SDK. We never really could figure out why it lacked such functionality, but now you can take one on most phones by hitting Volume Down + Power at the same time for a couple of seconds. On Samsung devices, I believe it’s Volume Down + Home. Either way, it’s there and has been there for some time now.

Guess what? You now have even more screenshot power thanks to Android 4.4 and its new “screenrecord” functionality. It’s glorious, by the way. 

Google has introduced “screenrecord” as a way for app developers to produce better app overviews that  can be loaded into their app listings on Google Play. But for you and I, it’s a way for us to help friends better use their phone, show off hilarious footage, or simply mess around as the tinkerers we are. It records in whatever screen resolution your phone displays with a default bit rate of 4Mbps. As you can see in the video above, set to default settings with screen touches on, it does a pretty incredible job.

At this time, in order to perform a screenrecord, you’ll need the Android SDK and a familiarity with adb commands. I’m sure before long, developers will create awesome screen recording apps, but for now, this is the cleanest way to do it. Actually, there is an app already available, but it seems to be pretty hit or miss at the time. We’ve talked to the dev, and he’s definitely working on making it awesome.

For now, you can screenrecord by typing in a simple “adb shell screenrecord” command, which will tell your phone to record a 90-second clip and then store it to your internal storage. There are parameters that can be adjusted, including length, size, and bit rate, however, there isn’t currently a way to stop the recording other than setting a time limit and hitting that limit. If you know of a way, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Here is the adb command (with phone plugged in, USB debugging enabled):

adb shell screenrecord <insert file name and location>

(ex:  adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/test.mp4)

If you want to step it up another notch and specify video length and other parameters, here are some other options to include in your adb command:

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 8.29.33 AM

An example of an adb command using the time-limit command would look like this:

adb shell screenrecord –time-limit 30 /sdcard/test.mp4

And that’s pretty that. Depending on where you told the screenrecord to save to, you can retrieve it, watch it, and then share it with the world.

Pretty neat, right?

More on screenrecord can be found at the Android Developers site.

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  • A Popov

    I’ve played around with screen recording and have picked presets with optimal performance-to-quality ratio for N7 and N10: http://androidworks-kea.blogspot.com/2013/11/developers-notes-iv-presets-for-screen.html

  • Simon Belmont

    I’m pretty sure Android 2.3.3 or Android 2.3.4 actually opened up the API for non-root screenshots (without having to use ADB). I had it on my HTC EVO 3D with Gingerbread.

    But yeah, stock Android with a screenshot button combination didn’t happen until ICS. Kinda funny considering iOS had it from day one.

  • snapple

    FIRST!!!

    oh, I sound like apple. considering im actually 79th

  • imnotmikal

    The app is made by friend of mine, so I’ll elaborate. It currently only seems to be working on the 2012 Nexus 7, but no phones, we aren’t sure why. We’ll be updating regularly to add the option to choose where the recording saves. You can currently pick a time for it to record, up to 3 minutes.

  • Hugo

    I made a blog post about doing it without ADB and without a computer, just using Tasker: http://blog.hugo.sx/making-a-toggle-for-screen-recording-in-android-4-4/

  • droidrazredge

    I wonder if you can record the screen of you recording something of you recording something ? :O *Mind Blown*

  • Yorke

    You can stop the recording by hitting ctrl-c in your terminal.

    • snapple

      terminal? youre terminal! I hope the butt cancer you get from your iphone is terminal you apple punk!

  • jscofi

    N5 arrives today. not planning on rooting. hopefully the app will be improved! not sure what i will use this feature for, but its BA!!

  • JimmyHACK

    Ya I’m pretty sure I’m switching from Verizon to T-Mobile next month.

    • Trent Callahan

      Go get it. It’s worth it mate.

      • Rock_Kickass

        That’s what i just did, 100% worth it.

    • Josh Flowers

      if coverage is ample for you, more power to you. I’d definitely test the network before you switched–as T-Mo’s prepaid network isn’t the full tower spectrum in your area. Be sure to ask both sides (pre/post paid) in your area. I wish I could go t-mo but their coverage in my area is horrendous.

    • zmr333

      I’m switching tomorrow, my Nexus 5 gets here on Wednesday

  • Renjamin

    Teaching my family how to fix their own phones just became a whole lot easier. =)

  • Ryan5609

    This is awesome, should really help for giving tutorials.

  • Leif Sikorski

    What is the maximum length of the videos? During one Google dev video they weren’t sure about this. One person said 50 seconds, the other one mentioned that it got raised to a maximum of 3 minutes. 50 seconds would be a bit short for some usecases, while 3 minutes would be more than enough.

    • Trent Callahan

      I think I read in multiple places 90 seconds. Not sure.

  • Colton

    Sort of irrelevant, but with Samsung devices it is Power+Home to screenshot. Not Vol Down+Home.

    • YEMan0443

      Or with gesture controls just swipe your hand across your screen.

      • snapple

        try and control the gesture I make, while swiping my hand across you apple fan-boi face!

        • YEMan0443

          If you knew what you were talking about you’d realize you can swipe your hand to take a screenshot on Samsung ANDROID devices…

    • snapple

      irrelevant indeed… next time don’t waste OUR time. thanks apple boi

      • Colton

        I have the s4, which is why I pointed it out, apple boi

  • Tom Luley

    On Samsung devices (with touchwiz), it is power button and home button…Not sure if you want to edit that. Just a friendly FYI :)

    • fauxshizzl

      Lord forbid they could have left that alone. Stock functions like that should not be changed just “because we can.”

      • snapple

        Lord? you mean steve jobs, right? you apple fan boi’s can suck it! just because we can = fingerprint sensor

      • snapple

        Lord? You mean Steve jobs, don’t you apple boi? Because we can = fingerprint scanner. Lame

        • fauxshizzl

          Wow you are so ignorant I am not sure where to begin. By “leave that alone” I meant leave the stock button configuration for performing a screenshot so I don’t have to guess what it is between manufacturers. It should always be volume down + power button. You give Android enthusiasts a bad name.

    • Dave

      Or just wave your hand sideways across the screen. Pretty slick for TW.

      • Tom Luley

        Good call, although I have disabled all the TW features…I was getting some pretty terrible battery drain with all their fancy things enabled.

        • Dave

          Looking at my menu setup, I only leave in battery saver and motion on… and usually get about 48 hours with 5-7 of screen time per charge. Usually 5-6 hours in Airplane mode so my alarm clock works and I don’t get notifications while sleeping.

          • snapple

            looking at your menu setup, I can see where things went wrong for you

        • snapple

          disable TW?? you communist apple loving SOB!

          • Dave

            What?

          • snapple

            who?

      • snapple

        I’ll just wave my hand sideways across your face! apple boi!

    • snapple

      shut it apple boi! do your research first!

      • Dave

        Again….what is that supposed to mean?

        • snapple

          c’mon man, your just feeding into it. grow-up already

  • Trent Callahan

    Time for Apple to release native screen recording in iOS 8 and call it a true innovation!

    • alinewalker325

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    • Timothy McGovern

      This has gotten kind of old. I don’t know how these jokes keep getting upvoted

      • snapple

        shut it apple boi

      • XboxOne

        Because of all the Fandroids that don’t know any better.

    • autonomousgerm

      Give it up already.

      • snapple

        give it up? you mean like your mama did to steve jobs? u suk apple boi!

      • Dave

        Just flag his comments. They could vaguely be deemed as threatening or offensive enough to get them removed. I did about 20 times.

        • snapple

          g whiz, 20 times to my 100 comments… way to be a crime fighter. you slack off harder than apple

        • snapple

          flag me? I’ll flag you! I’ll flag the poop out of you. I bet webber wants to watch us flagging each other, huh? gross, you flaggots!

        • snapple

          “vaguely be deemed as threatening”.. Ha! I’ll bet thats what your boyfriend webber calls your penis

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    “Out for Delivery” . . . I’ll be testing this pretty soon myself :-)

    • BigDropz

      Will there ever be a Nexus 6 phone? And if so, what will come after? It would be cool if they match phone versions with Android OS version. Ex. Like release Lolly Pop 5.0 for the Nexus 5/ And names the next Nexus “Nexus 5.5 with Android M&M 5.5.” Then something like Nexus 6.0 w/Android Nerds 6.0. Etc. Instead of going straight to a Nexus 6 phone. What’s happens after that. I don’t like the sound of a Nexus 7 phone idk, what do u guys think?

      • Trent Callahan

        They’ll have to give them a name. What happens when the “Nexus 7″ phone comes out? It’ll share the name as the tablet.

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        I’m sure they have that figured out. I really don’t care what they call it.

        • Trent Callahan

          True. It’ll always be a Nexus to me.

      • JRomeo

        just like last year’s Nexus7 didn’t change names when it was updated (as long as the screen size stayed at 7 inches), therefore I don’t think this year’s Nexus5 will change names next year (assuming the screen stays at 5.x inches)

        • Vincent Marino

          They don’t name the phones based on screen size. Who know where they’ll go with it.

          • HarvesterX

            The Nexus One would have been a wristwatch.. Lol just an example. Dunno the actual dimensions of Android watches

          • JRomeo

            that’s not what they used to do. but it appears that’s what they might begin to do otherwise in the year 2015 we will have a Nexus7 smartphone (which is 4 or 5 inches in reality) and a Nexus7 tablet (which is 7 inches), and we will have to ask people which Nexus7 do they have, do they have the Nexus7 phone or the Nexus7 tablet?…. this is why I think they’ll just name next year’s Nexus phone, the Nexus5 again unless they make a 6-inch nexus phone, then it’ll be the Nexus6

          • Vincent Marino

            I don’t think they’re gonna stick an extra inch on screen size each year. If they decide to call it the Nexus 6 next year. I doubt the screen will be 6″. I think they’ll break away and find a new naming scheme.

          • JRomeo

            I guess the point i’m making is…….. I have a hunch that their naming scheme used to be one thing originally. but then their naming scheme changed.

          • Vincent Marino

            I think it was Samsung that screwed it up. They based the Nexus S off of the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Nexus off of the S2, and forced the names on the phones. I think HTC and LG kept it simple like Google wanted and numbered them based on order/generation.

          • snapple

            A hunch? why don’t you hunch over the toilet, and express your thoughts there? APPLE BOI!

          • JRomeo

            the verb “hunch” is quite different in meaning than the noun “hunch”. I am most definitely not an “Apple Boi”, I ordered 2 Nexus5′s on release day, and helped 3 others order theirs :-D

          • snapple

            you apple boi’s think you know everything. just shut it alreadys

          • Vincent Marino

            I’m obviously an “apple boi” considering I own a Nexus 5, and a Galaxy Nexus before that. You’re awful at trolling. Get a life and grow up.

          • snapple

            jeezus, where do I even begin with you….

          • snapple

            OH?! do you work for GOOGLE? NO? then SHUT IT apple boi!

      • Weber

        I like Android Nerds

        • snapple

          are you a stacked blonde nympho? no? then SHUT IT apple boi!

          • Weber

            I was mainly thinking about the candy, but if you must know…no, I’m not stacked. Nor a girl. Nor an Apple fanboy. But I am blonde. Sorry.

          • Dave

            That person has over 100 comments calling people Apple Boi today alone. What an idiot.

          • snapple

            wow, did you read each one? cause i’m maybe at 26 by now. you apple boi’s always spreading mis-information!

          • Weber

            Thanks. I haven’t paid much attention to the coments this afternoon. I see it now though. He is an idiot.

          • snapple

            what is this, the Dave & Webber show? you two just love the comment spotlight dont you? can’t stand to be outclassed by something new! just like apple…..

          • snapple

            look, who you sex-up on your own time is your business. your “android nerd” fetish is not a topic suitable for this page. I hope you get banned, you pervert!

      • Ryuuie

        Nexus 6 is actually trademarked to Philip K Dick’s estate. Google got sued before with the Nexus One.

        There most likely won’t be a Nexus 6, just something else.

        • snapple

          God, you apple fan boi’s are such nay sayers

          • Ryuuie

            Uh? Ok? I guess you don’t know how to Google something…

            http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Philip+K+Dick+Nexus+One

            It’s not a troll thing, it actually won’t happen. They will name it something else.

            Though, you’re a pretty terrible troll so…mmkay.

    • Morbid138

      Can you please let me know if the delivery requires a signature?

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        I’m not really sure. Though when I’m not home they just drop it at the front desk so who knows

      • Andrew

        It does.

      • jscofi

        i chatted with a UPS rep. she said it didnt require signature but was up to the drivers discretion whether or not he leaves it. ill find out within the next few hours…

        • Morbid138

          Thanks! I appreciate it.

  • Josh Flowers

    can’t wait for this option to be included on 4.4 ROM’s & as easily accessible as a long-press of the Power button (bringing up other functions like Reboot/Power Off/ Screen Shot) on some current ROMs