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Stock Android should steal this privacy feature from OnePlus

Oppo and OnePlus have implemented a neat privacy feature for screenshots, and we want it in stock Android.
By
September 17, 2022
OnePlus auto pixelate screenshot
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

One of the best things about Android is that there are a variety of skins out there, as the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, and others add their own look and feel to the operating system.

These overlays also bring a ton of handy features that are often missing from pure Android. For example, scrolling screenshots were missing until Android 12, fingerprint scanner support didn’t show up until Android Marshmallow, and multi-SIM support was only added in Android Lollipop.

Now, with OEMs bringing their own updated skins in the wake of Android 13, you can add another cool feature to the table from Oppo’s Color OS 13 and OnePlus’ Oxygen OS 13.

Another privacy-focused feature

OnePlus and Oppo’s latest Android skins deliver the ability to automatically pixelate faces and names in screenshots. The feature uses an on-device algorithm to detect names and faces, with Oppo saying it doesn’t actually read the content of your messages.

It’s worth noting that there are several photo-editing apps on the market that do indeed offer pixelate functionality. But OnePlus and Oppo’s take means that your phone does the legwork of identifying the necessary areas and pixelating them in one go.

Auto-pixelate detects the names and profile pictures in screenshots before censoring them — no need to do it all yourself.

This could be handy if you’re sharing screenshots of a message thread with a friend or a private social media exchange. So you don’t need to spend minutes manually selecting the correct area and censoring identifying info.

More messaging coverage: The best messenger and chat apps for Android

How does this work in practice, though? Well, all you need to do is take a screenshot and then visit the resulting image editor. From here, you’ll need to tap “Pixel” and the phone should automatically pixelate/censor names and profile photos.

 

In saying so, Android Authority team member Dhruv Bhutani said he received an “auto-pixelation error” on his OnePlus device when first trying it out on Facebook Messenger. But the function worked after trying it again. So there’s definitely a need for some polishing in this regard.

Speaking of Facebook Messenger, auto-pixelate support is officially limited to Messenger and WhatsApp. It indeed didn’t work on Telegram when we tried it out on a OnePlus phone, but it does seem to work in the phone’s Messages app in a rudimentary capacity (see the second image in the gallery above). Still, we do hope to see more apps properly supporting the functionality soon.

It's only officially supported in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but it seems to randomly work in other apps.

Nevertheless, this is the latest privacy-focused feature we’ve seen from OEMs that should land in stock Android. And there are plenty more privacy functions that Google should mine from OEMs in the future.

Would you like your phone to auto-pixelate parts of a screenshot with one tap?

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For example, Samsung’s One UI 3.1 offers the ability to remove location data from a photo before sending it to someone. ColorOS 7 also brought a Personal Information Protection feature, sending dummy info to apps that insist on certain permissions (e.g. a blank list of contacts for an app that requires the Contacts permission).

Either way, here’s hoping that Google brings auto-pixelate functionality to Android 14 and/or Google Photos in the future.