With the launch of Android 12 Developer Preview apparently around the corner, we’ve learned that Pixel phones may get a new face-based automatic rotation feature.
On Pixel phones today as well as Android devices in general, you are able to get your screen direction to rotate to match the direction of your device. For example, you can browse YouTube in portrait mode and then rotate your device to one side or the other to maximize the video.
However, there is an interesting quirk with this experience, or perhaps you can think of it as a discrepancy between what phones expect and how people shop. Too many of us have a habit of using our phones in bed – despite Google’s efforts in Digital Wellbeing. And if you do this while laying on your side, both your head and your phone is turned to the side.
With Auto-Rotate as it works today, your phone goes into landscape mode where you want it to remain in portrait mode for easier reading. With Android Pie, phones got a convenient button to rotate the display that appears when your phone is turned to the side and Auto-Rotation is turned off. Those who use their phones while hanging up on their pages are likely to hold Auto-Rotate off and simply use this button when they need to rotate the screen.
According to information seen by 9to5Google, Android 12 is set to bring an optional, face-based version of Auto-Rotate to Pixel phones. Essentially, your phone uses your front-facing camera to check if anyone is looking at the screen, and if so, which way the head is turned.
Probably the technology behind this is a simplified version of face-shape recognition features in apps like Snapchat and Google Duo. For obvious privacy reasons, this camera-based control is done solely on your device and does not store or send your image anywhere.
It is possible that this face-based version of Auto-Rotate could start as a broader Android 12 feature, but so far we think it will be exclusively for Pixel phones, at least in the short term. Alternatively, as it has done happened before with features seen in newer versions of Android, face-based Auto-Rotate could possibly arrive as part of a Pixel Feature Drop.
Dylan Roussel contributed to this article
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