Android 12 makes saving and sharing images easier than ever before

With Android 12, most people’s attention has been focused on Material You, which makes sense given that it’s the most obvious user-facing change. That has meant that some smaller additions have slipped under the radar, like quick image sharing from the overview/recents menu.

We discussed this briefly during Android 12’s development, but it seemed to fade into the background behind other features. I completely forgot it existed until a friend mentioned it the other day. So, let’s take another look at one of the most understated additions in the latest version of our favorite OS.

To get started, all you need to do is have the image you’d like to share or save on your screen and open the overview screen, otherwise known as the recents menu. You can access it with the little square button if you still use the old 3-button navigation, or swipe up and hold with gestures. If the system detects a large image, you may see the little squircle icon appear next to it, which you can tap for more options. Even if you don’t see the icon, you may still be able to long-press smaller images. From here, you can use Lens to investigate the image, copy it to your clipboard, share it with someone, or save it to your phone. as if that wasn’t convenient enough, quick share targets even appear at the bottom of the screen.


Now, all that’s happening here is that the phone is taking a screenshot of the image. So why use this when you can do that yourself? For one, this method saves you from having to crop your screenshot after taking it manually. The other advantage is that the image isn’t stored in your phone’s storage unless you tap the save option. If all you want is to quickly send something to a friend without having more screenshots clutter up your phone, this is the way to go.

Overview image extraction works in most places, including Instagram posts and Instagram stories, but it’s still restricted in apps like Netlfix which have copywriter protection. It also fails to work in Snapchat, which is odd considering regular screenshots work.

Instagram is a good example of how helpful this can be. Taking a screenshot of a story isn’t easy because, by the time you’ve hit the button combination, the story could time out and move on to the next one. But when you enter overview, stories pause, giving you plenty of time to grab your screenshot.

On the downside, since it’s only taking a screenshot of what’s on your screen, the quality isn’t the best, and it gets worse the small the image appears on the display. That’s arguably a small inconvenience if what you’re sharing isn’t super important.

Overall, I think this is one of those small features that can make a big difference to some people, and it’s not immediately obvious to casual users. I share screenshots and images with people quite a lot, so being able to grab what I want without having to crop it myself or save it to my phone saves me a bunch of time. Give it a try and you’ll see how useful it can be.

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