I was thinking about this and I don't understand the reasoning behind it. iPhone users have this capability out of the box, and yet Apple is far more protective of their devices.

Whether this turns into a philosophical discussion or a technical discussion (or maybe both) I'd still like to understand why this limitation exists in Android.


2 Answers 2


No idea why it wasn't available before, but as of 2.3.3 non-rooted screen shot support was added for system apps, at least. As eldarerathis noted, there are some articles out there implying that this would let any app capture a screen shot now, but according to an android engineer this permission is only granted to apps signed by the system image's keys - it is only available to be rolled into the OS, not as a feature 3rd party apps can access.

  • 1
    I tend to think it is more of a security issue. But I've never actually seen a statement one way or the other.
    – FoamyGuy
    May 13, 2011 at 17:51
  • 5
    The articles (and commits, in a way) are somewhat misleading. Third-party apps will still not be able to take screenshots, because the permission required to do so can only be obtained by system-signed apps. There is a question on SO where one of the Android engineers states this: stackoverflow.com/questions/5161544/… May 13, 2011 at 18:12
  • Thanks. I wonder if that means they intend to make it a standard OS feature in the near future.
    – Saiboogu
    May 13, 2011 at 18:22
  • I'm marking this as the answer since it pretty clearly indicates (at least to me) that the only reason we needed root before 2.3.3 is because there was no system app designed to do it for us.
    – newuser
    May 13, 2011 at 18:30
  • I wouldn't be surprised to see that, or at least manufacturers rolling their own apps for it. May 13, 2011 at 18:35

I would think it's so that rogue apps can't transmit pictures of what you're doing. Of course, that doesn't explain why apps that read SMS or whatever don't require root :P


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