One of the Pixel line-up’s little known hacks is the ability to select text and images — really, any text or image — from the Overview screen and copy or share it. The feature, which first showed up more than three years ago, works like magic for apps that don’t allow you to select anything (like Instagram for example) and is somewhat of a replacement to Assistant’s on-again-off-again “What’s on my screen?” option. Google has been improving it too, first by adding Lens detection and translation, then by simplifying link sharing in Android 12. Now, it’s doing that same thing for images.
If you open the Overview (aka Recents or app switcher) interface on your Pixel running Android 12’s latest beta 4, you’ll notice a new icon on the bottom left of recognized images. You can see it in the middle screenshot below — it’s the purple image icon below the dogs’ feet. This is a simple indicator that Google has already detected an image, so you no longer have to tap and hold to get it to recognize what’s there.
Left: Android 12 beta 3 and below. Middle & Right: Android 12 beta 4.
Simply tap that icon and the image will pop out and expand. You’ll get the usual Lens, copy, share, and save options, but you’ll also see a row of direct share targets on the bottom of the screen. All you have to do is select one and the image will be sent to them. You can also tap More, but that opens up the share sheet, similarly to the Share button in the toolbar.
The usability and speed of this would be more impactful if Android had a better implementation of direct share targets. As it stands, what I get there are mostly people I haven’t spoken to in ages or targets from apps I rarely use. But that’s another issue altogether and we’re not going to waste time discussing it here.
What matters is that image sharing in Overview is a lot more straightforward now, and more discoverable. Many users might have never considered that they could tap and hold images in the app switcher to select them, and now the new icon makes that clearer.