Want to create demonstration videos on your Android device, perhaps to help a friend or relative, or to show how an app you have developed works? Perhaps you simply want to record your activity in a game or video chat? You need a screen recorder tool.
Android users have a choice of apps (some of which require root), an official ADB method, and even custom ROMs with the facility built in. Let’s find out which option is best for you.
Best Practices for Screen Recording
Recording a screen cast can be tricky, even with the right app. As a result, you should take some time to prepare what you’re doing beforehand. Spend a few moments writing a basic script. It doesn’t have to be detailed, more of a sort of cue-card approach.
You should follow this with a few practice runs, making sure you’re comfortable with the process you’re demonstrating. After all, if you make it look tough, it won’t be a great video. Similarly, take your time with the video, don’t rush or talk too quickly if your screen recording tool supports audio (most do). If you want to make particular actions specific, use an app with a pointer toggle, to highlight the part of the display you’re using. Failing this, connect a mouse to your Android device using Bluetooth or USB OTG.
When you’re comfortable with your planned demonstration, it’s time to hit record… but which app will you use?
SCR Screen Recorder Pro (root) [No Longer Available]
For many, this is the top screen recording app, offering front camera integration, an indicator to show where you’re touching the display, and the ability to choose your audio source and even mute the clip to record audio later.
The end result is a polished, professional-looking clip, although you might want to make sure you’re looking presentable if you’re integrating your own head into the clip!
Of course, the shortcoming is that you must have a rooted Android device to use this app. If you choose to root your device (the process differs across models and manufacturers) take care not to brick the device, which would render it unusable.
Running Lollipop 5.0? AZ Screen Recorder — No Root
With Android 5.0 Lollipop, screen recording has been built into the Android API, which makes it a whole lot easier for developers to create competent, stable apps.
One such example is the AZ Screen Recorder app, a root-free solution with a largely-unobtrusive floating menu to enable easy screen recording. With a choice of video quality settings, a countdown timer to help you start recording the useful footage, a facecam for reaction shots, and the ability to draw on screen and trim videos, this app has it all. If you’re on Lollipop, this is the solution for you.
- Download AZ Screen Recorder
The App-Free Solution: Screen Recording Over Android ADB
If an app doesn’t work for you, the Android SDK — which can be downloaded from developer.android.com/sdk — is required. Using the Android Debug Bridge, which is bundled with the SDK, you can record video via USB. This method works with Android 4.4 and later.
Begin by connecting your phone to your computer via microUSB. Launch the command line, and enter:
adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/FILENAME.mp4
(Remember to change “FILENAME” for the name you want to give the file.)
You can then begin the demonstration on your phone, and when you’re done, press CTRL+C. This method will create an MP4 file on your device storage, so copy the completed file to your computer to review and edit.
Record Your Screen the Old Fashioned Way
All the options above expect your Android device to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later. But what if your Android device is an older phone or tablet? The answer here is to use the Android SDK to mirror your device’s display and use a desktop screen-capturing software such as Ashampoo Snap or Screen Studio for Linux.
If this doesn’t work for you, and you’re fortunate enough to have an Android device with an HDMI out port (some exist, and can easily display the screen on a HDTV), you can connect this to a digital video camera and record activity on your Android screen that way. Failing this, an HDMI PCI Express card on your PC — or USB HDMI adaptor — and a suitable video capture package can also provide a solution here.
Screen Recording in a Custom ROM
Sometimes, you don’t need to bother installing apps. Seasoned ROM flashers will know that a whole bunch of extras are included in custom ROMs, and very often, screen recorders are among these extras. For instance, OmniROM, which we’ve mentioned a couple of times previously on MakeUseOf, has a “cooked in” screen capture app.
So, if you’re running a custom ROM, check the notes or have a good look through the options and apps you have installed already. There is a very good chance that screen recording is a cooked in option, and all you have to do is activate it.
How Do You Record Your Screen?
Those are all the best options we found, but maybe we missed something. Now we want to hear from you.
Do you use screen recording apps? Is there one that you favor above all others? Let us know in the comments.