Update: Google Android engineer Romain Guy says that the reports are wrong,  and that Android 2.3.3 will only allow system apps will be able to take screenshots. That may mean that Google will release a screenshot app that could work without root, but it’s unlikely that third party screenshot apps will work.

Update 2: Having installed Android 2.3.3 on my Nexus One running Stock Android, I can confirm that ShootMe and other screenshot apps do not currently work without root access.

Google began rolling out Android 2.3.3 over the air updates for Nexus One and Nexus S smartphone users last week. The update brings Gingerbread’s key features including a tweaked user interface, improved keyboard, and better power management to the Nexus One, while removing Facebook sync from the Nexus S. But it looks like there are also a few hidden gems (and bugs) in the software update.

The good news is that users are reporting the Android 2.3.3 finally allows users to take screenshots of their device without first rooting their phones or installing the SDK. While iPhone users have always been able to snap a picture of their screen by pressing the Home and Power buttons simultaneously, Android users either had to connect their device to computer with a USB cable, install the Android SDK kit, and run a desktop app — or root their Android device and install a third party app such as ShootMe.

It’s always seemed a little crazy that you had to either install developer tools or hack your phone to take screenshots. Android Central reports that a change in the SurfaceFlinger display driver seems to be responsible for the change.

But it looks like Android 2.3.3 isn’t all hugs and puppies. Engadget reports that after applying the update, Google Voice may stop working. Right now it looks like you can install an older version of the Google Voice app to get around the problem, but you wouldn’t really expect a Google OS update to break support for a Google app, would you?

Another problem some users are running into is that it’s difficult to root the Nexus One after updating to Android 2.3.3 since SuperOneClick, Universal Androot, and other easy-to-use software doesn’t seem to work at the moment. I have no doubt someone will come up with a new method soon, but to be honest half the reason I rooted my phone in the first place was to make it easier to take screenshots. If I can do that without rooting Gingerbread, I may not bother pulling my hair out looking for new root tools.

If you don’t feel like waiting for Google to push the Gingerbread update to your phone, you can download and install the update manually as well.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

One reply on “Google Android 2.3.3 adds native screenshot support, may break Google Voice”

  1. I won’t update until I can root (N1).

    Titanium Back Up requires root. No room for all the apps I have without using TB to move them to the SD card.

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