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Feb 15 2011

Android: Security vs Taking Screenshots

rfdql12p thumb Android: Security vs Taking ScreenshotsAndroid has me morally confused on the topic of taking screenshots.

The iPhone can take screenshots fairly easy, but the same task with Android is like pulling teeth, and while there’s options to taking screenshots with the Android operating system; how it’s done is morally questionable and that’s the part that has me perplexed.

There seems to be an obvious NEED to be able to do screenshots with Android. And I also believe there’s enough frustration to go around on the Android’s lack of ability to do so.

The market is the driving point of confusion with this whole issue. On one hand Android CAN take screenshots, but on the other hand NO IT CAN’T because the Android operating system has to be ROOTED to allow the screenshot to be saved…

WHY?!

In order for Android users to get screenshots, they have to either ROOT their phones, or hook up a USB cable to the Smartphone and the PC, and then download the pictures from there. Which is what I’m having to do here, for this post.

The morality question comes to me like this…

If I have an android Smartphone, which I do [Droid x]; do I want to ROOT my phone just to be able to take screenshots of applications, or error messages? And and in doing so, AND am I willing to risk the security of my Android phone, in all other respects, to do this?

It’s a big question and a daunting thought… but logically the regular person would say no; an ignorant person, not knowing the repercussions would be like, ‘sure, ROOT this thing!’

 

ROOTING…

ROOT’ing a phone in it’s simplest definition, allowing the user to circumvent the installed security on a Smartphone to allow advanced settings and features to be accessed by the user/owner.

So, ROOT’ing your phone is actually considered a good thing by some, so they have more control over their phone; what they do with it, how they do with it and those persons are typically pretty tech savvy. They typically know what’s good and what’s bad… but what about the other users?

 

How do you ROOT an Android Smartphone?

It’s not that easy… If users visit the market, they see all these options to do a screenshot, but a large majority of them require the phones to be ROOT’d…

It’s a mixed message if you’re ask me… There are websites devoted to allowing users to ROOT their Android phones; there has been since the phone was first released.

 

The Android Market…

Here, take a look at this screenshot. There’s screenshot applications listed, but you can’t use them. There’s some that are free, others that you pay for, and 90% of those require the Android operating system to be rooted.

chuih2xf thumb Android: Security vs Taking Screenshots

This example here, below is a screenshot of an android application from the market, that says ‘depending on the phone’, but the very first thing it says is that ‘may require a rooted phone’.

eq2l4pio thumb Android: Security vs Taking Screenshots

It’s very odd.

 

Security…

Now, if security is such a big issue, why and how is it that all these applications, not just screenshot applications, are in the market and clearly say the phone has to be rooted.

ROOT’ing your phone isn’t something that any of the carriers want you to do… it’s NTO endorsed. And it’s not a simple switch in the operating system, that says ‘oh, this operating system is ROOTED— have fun, and good luck!’

No, it’s not there.

Again, we’re back to the tech savvy users; the ones that are knowledgeable enough to install a ROOT on to the Android. They can do this with relative ease.

And Android doesn’t really want ROOT’d users, because with each release of Android the hack boys have to come out with a new round of ROOT utilities. So, it’s accepted, but frowned upon at the same time. How is that?!

 

The Confusion…

I just don’t understand the logic of Google and the Android operating system…

They endorse the development of applications that require the users to have ROOT’d smartphones, but they don’t actively endorse, nor provide a way for users to ROOT their phones. And if you ROOT your phone, your phone is no longer covered under a warranty.

The Android market knows this, and doesn’t discourage it in any way.

And then there’s the overall need to be able to take simple screenshots… and it seems as though it’s a necessary evil and something that the Android market is willing to overlook, but this also endorses the users, on the grounds that they’re voiding their warranty and effectively placing the Android phone at a security risk; much greater than others.

 

It’d seem that Google and/or the Android operating system would have addressed this moral question by now, but no; it’s still there.

And one has to ask, does Google/Android value security enough to provide an option to take a screenshot with, or built-in to the operating system?

I can’t seem to find an answer to that one…

 

I’d like to here your take on this moral position of Android/Google…

 

I appreciate it…

Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.
LEHSYS.com 

 Android: Security vs Taking Screenshots
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  • Stuart

    I am not sure what OS version your phone will now be at but it is possible (in FROYO ) to take a screen shot in stock android.
    The description is press the home and back buttons at the same time but that is almost impossible. The trick is to press and hold the back button then press the home button.
    You should hear a shutter sound and the screen shot is saved on the sdcard in the screencapture directory
    Its not perfect due to the way some apps react to the back button press.

    • http://www.LEHSYS.com lehenryjr

      Thanks for the advice; but it just didn't work for me… and I'm using Froyo.
      I appreciate it…

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • Stuart

    Sadly it does not work as well as it should.
    To even get a test of it, it seems to work repeatably on the home screens and in settings.
    The problem appears to be that the timing is either critical or my workaround causes programs to react to the back button press rather than the press and hold. If you go into Settings -> Applications -> Running Services you should see a ScreenCaptureService

    • DGfromMTL

      Able to capture screenshoots on unrooted Galaxy S ( FROYO) using a free app called: ShootMe (Screen grabber).
      Created by John Cloetens. A LITTLE WEIRD – you shake the phone vigorously to trigger it – but it does take nice snaps.

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