Android 12 could bring a face-based Auto-Rotate feature to Google's Pixel phones

Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5 (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google reportedly plans to introduce a new face-based Auto-Rotate option for Pixel phones with Android 12.
  • The feature will use the front camera on your phone to check which way your head is turned before it changes the orientation.
  • It could also be rolled out to other Android phones eventually.

Google is soon expected to drop the first Android 12 Developer Preview. Based on all the all the information that has leaked so far, the next Android release will bring a few significant UI changes, a new one-handed mode, as well as a few other useful new features. According to a report from 9to5Google, Android 12 could also bring a new face-based "smart autorotate" feature for Google's Pixel phones.

The autorotation feature on Android phones uses data from the gyroscope and accelerometer to change the screen orientation. While it works fine most of the time, it is far from perfect.

Google's upcoming smart autorotate feature will use your phone's front-facing camera to check which way your head is turned when you're looking at the screen. This should allow the feature to work flawlessly, even when you are laying on your sides. The camera-based check will apparently happen entirely on your device, and no photos will be saved.

The report also suggests it is possible that this new version of autorotate could arrive as part of a future Pixel feature drop, even before Android 12 is released. Last year, a new Motion Sense gesture to play or pause music was rolled out to the Pixel 4 series phones less than a month after it showed up in the first Android 11 Developer Preview.

While the feature is expected to be exclusive to Google's best Android phones initially, it is unclear at this point if the feature will be making its way to other Android devices eventually.

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Babu Mohan
News Writer
  • HTC already solved this problem on the U12, with a capacitive touch frame that could read your finger positions. Worked like a dream.
  • I guess it works by touching the screen. Hopefully this will not require licking it only because it uses our faces. Also I expect my head be tilted against my body when in bed. One might not like to align their fingers with their heads for this. I am sure HTC has something on the table but labeling such feature as "already solved" is stretching it a bit. Let's call them approaches. :)
  • Ah, I can tell you never used it. It doesn't use the screen touch sensors. The metal frame of the phone itself is touch sensitive, and knows how you are holding it. Android Central never explored the technology behind it, but it was praised as revolutionary at the time, and no one else has come up with a better system yet. It controls screen rotation exactly as advertised, and does it reliably. So yeah... problem solved. Google can't use the technology because HTC own the patents, and the downside is that it doesn't work through the typical TPU cases, so maybe Google's method will be better for more people.