A new Microsoft Garage project called Clip Layer promises to make it easier for Android users to “snip and share” almost anything that appears on their screen.
“Like a lot of people, my phone is the center of my life,” says Steve Won, a senior designer on Microsoft’s Office team and the creator of Clip Layer (as well as Hub Keyboard, another excellent and related Garage app). “I like to share what I’ve seen and I noticed a couple of problems unique to consuming on a smartphone.”
Clip Layer installs as an “assist” or “device assistance” app on Android, and it provides what Microsoft calls an invisible layer over the screen that lets you select anything on-screen and then copy it to the clipboard, save it to Wunderlist, or email or share it with another app.
To work its magic, Clip Layer needs to hijack the long-press on Home button gesture, which is how Google Assistant launches on my Pixel XL. Hopefully, a future version will let you trigger this functionality using a different gesture. (On my Nexus 6P, the underlying Google app works a bit differently and tries to perform what’s called a screen search when I long-press on the Home button.)
Assuming you’re OK with that, Clip Layer is pretty impressive, especially for anyone who has tried to use the terrible Android text selector before: It highlights each textual and graphical element on-screen so you can just tap each to select the ones you wish to copy or share. (You can’t just copy or share the whole screen, however. But the usual Android shortcut for screen capture—Power + Volume Up on the Pixel—still works.)
And because Clip Layer works over any screen, Microsoft claims that it can capture anything, even those screens that typically prevent copying.
This is pretty impressive.