Technology

Google Rolls Out Android Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview: All You Need To Know

Google has started rolling out the Android Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview for compatible Nexus and Pixel devices. To get access to the Google Android Oreo developer preview, you’ll have to enroll in the Android Beta Program. If you have already enrolled, you’ll get the regular over-the-air (OTA) updates. Another method is to download a Developer Preview system image and flash your device.

Google Android Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview
Image Source: Android.com (screenshot)

Google Android Oreo preview opens Pixel Visual Core to third-party apps

The latest update is compatible with Google’s Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and the Pixel 2 XL. If you are not a developer, you should hold off until Google releases the final public version of Android Oreo 8.1 sometime in December. The latest Google Android Oreo preview brings tons of new features, optimizations, smaller enhancements, and bug fixes.

One of the biggest highlights of the developer preview is that it has enabled Pixel Visual Core support for third-party apps. We reported last week that Google had included a secret imaging chip called Pixel Visual Core in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones that had been lying dormant. The chip improves the photography experience and allows third-party apps to take HDR+ quality images.

Of course, app developers will have to add support for Pixel Visual Core into their apps before you can take HDR+ images using the respective apps. It will allow any app, not just the stock Camera app, to take advantage of HDR+ photography. Instagram will be able to capture as good pictures as the stock app if you want to share photos on the social networking app.

Other features in the latest developer preview

The developer preview also brings a neural network programming kit that offers hardware-accelerated inference operations through frameworks such as TensorFlow Lite. The Neural Networks API can quickly execute machine learning models. It allows apps to learn from your habits, which would help reduce latency while keeping sensitive data on your phone.

The new Google Android Oreo preview has also introduced optimizations for Android Go. For the uninitiated, Android Go is the lightweight version of Android that powers low-specced devices with bad connectivity in emerging markets. The memory optimizations would allow developers to better target Android Go users. Google now allows apps to hand out shared memory to quickly access common data.

The Android Oreo 8.1 developer preview also features updates to Autofill framework to make it easier for password managers to use the framework.

Among other changes, the Quick Settings panel now has a slightly transparent background similar to the Pixel 2’s transparent Quick Settings. Users of older compatible phones such as Nexus 5X and later and the original Pixel will also be able to see what is behind the panel. The navigation bar has become white with dark icons. The update brings a floating power menu that appears next to the physical button.

The California company has also added a new Search bar in the Settings menu. It has added the date on the Ambient Display with 8.1 preview, which it had removed in the Android Oreo 8.0. The status bar now has an increased system-wide padding on both sides similar to the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy Note 8. The new Google Android Oreo version lets apps make only one notification sound per second. Alert sounds exceeding this rate won’t be queued, and would be lost.

The Settings section has also been revamped with a colored navigation bar that dims slightly when you scroll towards the bottom. According to Android Police, the dimming appears to be system-wide rather than only in Settings.

Google Pixel 2 XL suffers from display issues

Meanwhile, Google is investigating the plethora of problems that have plagued the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Users have taken to various forums to complain that both the new handsets are producing clicking sounds and high-pitched noises from speakers. That’s weird and annoying. Some users claim that turning off NFC fixes the clicking sound problem, but this isn’t a permanent solution.

The Pixel 2 XL’s display has been exhibiting a lot of problems. The larger Pixel comes with LG’s P-OLED display. LG doesn’t yet have Samsung-like expertise in making smartphone OLED displays. Early buyers have complained about OLED burn-in issues, where elements that remain in the same place on the screen for an extended time leave a “ghost” or “shadow” image even after they are gone. If you have been using the Pixel 2 XL, you might have seen the shadow images of the home, back, and multitasking buttons.