How to create screen recordings on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone

Defining a Quicktime recording area.

Defining a Quicktime recording area.

Android screen recording

Up until the most recent Android versions, creating a screen recording of an Android device usually involved obtaining root privilege, or using a souped-up kernel such as  CyanogenMod. Things have changed for the better: Android now permits screen recording on a device with "debug mode" enabled and connected to a computer running the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) tool.

Android, step one: Installing Java

I prefer using Android tools on a Linux computer, but these tools are also available for Mac OS X and Windows. Regardless of OS, a machine first needs the Java and Android development kits installed in order to run ADB. To start, I downloaded the jdk-8u5-linux-i586.tar.gz file from Oracle's JDK page, saving it to my local /root/downloads folder.

After downloading, I performed these steps in terminal, running as root:

# mkdir /usr/lib/java
# cd ~/downloads
# mv jdk-8u5-linux-i586.tar.gz /usr/lib/java
# cd /usr/lib/java
# tar xvf jdk-8u5-linux-i586.tar.gz
# rm jdk-8u5-linux-i586.tar.gz

Then I modified  /etc/profile, inserting these two lines...

JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/java/jdk1.8.0_05
ADT_HOME=/opt/adt-bundle-linux-x86-20140321

...and appended these entries to the PATH and export lines.

PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin:$JAVA_HOME/bin:$ADT_HOME/eclipse:$ADT_HOME/sdk/platform-tools

export PATH DISPLAY LESS TERM PS1 PS2 JAVA_HOME ADT_HOME

Android, step two: Installing the ADT bundle

Google created the Android development "bundle" which contains the Android SDK and Eclipse development environment in one convenient package. I chose to download the Linux 32-bit ADT Bundle (adt-bundle-linux-x86-20140321.zip) option listed on the download page, once again saving to /root/downloads.

Logged in as root, I then ran a final set of commands in terminal:

# cd ~/downloads	
# mv adt-bundle-linux-x86-20140321.zip /opt
# cd /opt
# unzip adt-bundle-linux-x86-20140321.zip
# rm adt-bundle-linux-x86-20140321.zip
# source /etc/profile

Finally, I followed the steps in the Recording a device section from the official ADB page, which I used to create the screen recording video below.

NOTE: You may get a prompt on your Android device when you use ADB. Tick the Always allow from this computer check box so your Android phone or tablet will remember your debug computer the next time you record screen video.

Allow USB debugging?

Allow USB debugging?

 

Mac OS X and iOS screen recording

In this example, I will show how to create a screen recording of an iPad running iOS 7 using a Mac running OS X Mavericks. In the past I have used the Apple's VGA dongle for presentations, with my iPad screen mirrored by a projector using Keynote. An acceptable solutionfor presentations, but what about using something other than Keynote, recording the screen of an iPad when using other apps? Most existing solutions involve the purchase of an AppleTV device, rooting iOS, etc. -- none of which I think is an appealing solution for most users.

A relatively inexpensive "software only" solution is possible using an application named Reflector, which permits a Mac or PC to be used as an airplay receiver -- and also enables the screen of an iOS device to be mirrored on the same computer. The mirrored video and sound from an iPad can then be recorded using Quicktime or VLC by the desktop computer.

To illustrate, I created the video below using the bog-standard Quicktime player that comes bundled with every Mac. Because Quicktime is able to record a screen area, setting the rectangular recording area inside the bounds of Reflector window enabled me to record an iPad screen.

To record an iOS device with your computer and Reflector, use the following steps. 
To begin, I started Reflector, and switched to my iPad, ensuring that my Mac was selected as the Airplay receiver, and that Mirroring was turned on. Next, I opened Quicktime, clicking on the File menu, followed by New Screen Recording. I then clicked the red record button, and drew a rectangle inside the Reflector window to define the boundary area for screen recording. To end the recording, I hit the Command + Q keys, and saved the video file when prompted by Quicktime for a name and location.

Defining a Quicktime recording area.

Defining a Quicktime recording area.

Here is a video I created using a trial version of Reflector and recorded using Quicktime:

Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 screen recording

In the following examples, I created my screen recordings with a mobile running WP 8.1 developer preview. If you are aren't running WP 8.1, Microsoft created a blog post on how to obtain and install Windows Phone 8.1 for phones running Windows Phone 8.

I discovered two ways to create screen recordings on WP 8.1. The first method applies to all users of WP 8.1: Install the Project My Screen application created by Microsoft, (available here) on your Windows computer. While running this application on your desktop, connect a WP 8.1 device to it with a USB cable.

You should now see a dialog message pop-up on your Windows Phone, tap yes to Allow screen projection.

Allow screen projection?

Allow screen projection?

After tapping yes, a window showing a mirrored image of your Windows Phone will appear on the PC:

Project My Screen window.

Project My Screen window.

To record this window, I used an application aptly named Screenrecorder available as a free download from Microsoft's Technet website. Trivial to use, Screenrecorder makes it easy to capture video of any running application window. I open the program, and selected Project My Screen App in the dropdown, clicked OK, entered a save filename, and clicked the Start button to begin recording. When finished, I clicked Stop to end recording , saving the new video file at the same time.

Running Screenrecorder.

Running Screenrecorder.

This is video recording created using Project My Screen connected to a Lumia 1020:

Nokia phone owners running WP 8.1 have a second option -- the Nokia Beamer app. This app enables a Nokia phone to transmit a live view of its screen to a desktop computer. It also includes sharing options so that invites may be sent to others via email, SMS, or social media apps like Twitter.

 

Linux screen recording

Many people know the versatile tool known as VLC can be used to create screen recordings on OS X or Windows, but fewer people have used it to create screen recordings on a Linux machine. In this example, I started by acquiring VLC from the project download page, following the build instructions matching the distribution running on my Linux box. In my particular case, I used the Slackware set of build instructions.

After the build was finished and the application installed, I opened VLC to create a new screen recording. I clicked the Media menu, Open Capture Device, set Capture mode to Desktop, ticked the Show More Options checkbox, to finally select Convert in the dropdown list next to the Play button.

VLC -- select Convert.

VLC -- select Convert.

On the Convert window, I entered a name for Destination file, and clicked Start.

Enter Destination and Start.

Enter Destination and Start.

When I was finished recording, I closed VLC and found the video saved in the destination path:

This concludes a cross-platform tutorial on how to begin screen recording for most types of mobile and computer platforms. Have fun creating your own screen recordings -- thank you for reading.

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