Android 14’s Native Screenshot Detection System Now Utilized by Apps

What you should know

  • Ephemeral messaging apps such as Snapchat have traditionally used screenshot detection to prevent users from permanently saving conversations and media. Android 14 now offers a native API for screenshot detection.
  • German shopping app OTTO is one of the first to adopt Android 14’s screenshot detection API. When a user takes a screenshot within the app, a toast message is displayed informing them that their action has been detected.
  • The app is only informed of the screenshot action and not the actual contents of the screen. It’s up to the app developer to determine what was on the screen when the screenshot was taken.
  • Android 14’s screenshot detection API is not a perfect solution for all the ways in which a screenshot can be taken. Stealthy screenshots can still be taken using the “Recents” task switcher screen, ADB, or a root screenshotting app.
  • Apps can still make use of older APIs for stricter control, which allow them to completely block the screenshot functionality. These older APIs can be seen at work in some banking and video streaming apps to protect sensitive data or copyright content.

Full Story

Snapchat and other ephemeral messaging apps have long leaned on screenshot detection. It’s their way of stopping users from saving conversations and media forever. They’ve developed their own ways to sniff out screenshots, but now Android 14 is stepping in with a native API for this.

AndroidPolice reported that the German shopping app OTTO is one of the first to use Android 14’s screenshot detection API. If a user tries to take a screenshot within the OTTO app, they get a toast message. It tells them that their sneaky action has been spotted. Developers can then react based on this alert.

Here’s a thing, though. The app only gets a heads up about the screenshot action, not what was actually on the screen. It’s down to the app developer to figure out what was on display when the screenshot was taken. Then, they can take various actions, like telling the other person in a chat that a screenshot has been taken.

Google’s explanation of the screenshot detection API goes like this: Android 14 introduces a privacy-preserving screenshot detection API to standardize screenshot detection. Apps can register callbacks on a per-activity basis. When a user takes a screenshot while that activity is visible, these callbacks are triggered, and the user gets a notification.

But, it’s not a foolproof solution. The API can only spot screenshots taken using the hardware button combo. Want to take a sneaky screenshot without the API noticing? You can still do it using the “Recents” task switcher screen when swiping up and holding, using ADB, or a root screenshotting app.

However, apps can still use older APIs for tighter control, even completely blocking the screenshot function. You can see these older APIs in action in some banking and video streaming apps. They’re there to protect sensitive data or copyrighted content.

The official Android API for screenshot detection makes life easier for app developers. It means they don’t need to come up with their own solutions like Snapchat did. But, users should still be careful when screenshotting conversations and other sensitive stuff. The other person might get a notification. Or, you know, just use some common sense when screenshotting private stuff.

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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