How to use Android 12’s clever new auto-rotate system


Google’s upcoming Android 12 update has plenty of eye-catching features, but don’t let yourself be fooled: sometimes, it’s the smaller, less obvious elements that are most deserving of your attention.

That’s certainly the case with the software’s new auto-rotate system. With Android 12, Google has introduced a smarter way to control when your screen switches between its vertical and horizontal orientations. And while the improvement isn’t getting all that much time in the spotlight, you’d better believe it has the potential to make your life a whole lot easier.

In short, instead of relying solely on your phone’s accelerometer to figure out which way you’re holding the device and then rotate your screen accordingly, Android 12 allows your device to use its front-facing camera as a guide. That way, the software can sense how that striking face of yours is positioned at any given moment and make sure the screen is always positioned to match.

The advantage is that you then avoid those awkward situations where you’re lying down — and thus holding your phone at an angle — and the screen then flips into its landscape orientation when you’re actually looking at it in its portrait mode. Since the system pays attention to the position of your face, it makes the screen match the way you’re actually using the device, no matter how you might be holding it.

Activating the new option couldn’t be easier.

Four steps to a smarter auto-rotate

(Note that these steps are specific to Google’s Android 12 interface and the way the new auto-rotate system is presented on Pixel phones. It’s not entirely clear at this point how other device-makers will alter the software’s interface or what specific features they’ll offer on their devices.)

  • Swipe down twice from the top of your screen and then tap the gear-shaped settings icon in the lower-right corner of the Quick Settings panel.
  • Tap “Display.”
  • Scroll down until you see the line that says “Auto-rotate screen.” Tap it.
  • Make sure the toggle next to “Use Auto-rotate” is in the on position, then activate the toggle next to “Enable Face Detection.”

How to use Android 12’s clever new auto-rotate system

How to use Android 12’s clever new auto-rotate system

And that’s it: all that’s left is to use your phone normally and watch as Android 12’s auto-rotate enhancement works its magic.