As suggested a few days ago, Google is now rolling out Android 8.1 for users enrolled in the developer preview or the Beta programs. While as of now, the new update doesn’t seem to bring any dramatic user end changes, there are a few notable things worth knowing about. Here are twelve of those.
More Machine Learning
With Android 8.1, Google has added dedicated API for integrating neural networks called “Neural Networks API (NNAPI)”. In layman’s terms, Google is making a tad easier for developers to build machine learning models on their applications.
Notification Alert Constraints
Google continues to extend its lead when it comes to notifications. Android 8.1 features a new restraint that limits applications to send these alerts not more than once per second. This is particularly useful when you come out of a no-network zone, and you will be bombarded with a multitude of notifications waiting in the buffer zone.
Improved Targeting for Low-RAM Devices
Thanks to a few new flags, developers can now directly target phones with underpowered hardware. Hence, this will allow them to modify their apps based on the available memory and power on the device. Google has been aggressively trying to bring more users to Android especially in emerging countries, and with this addition, it is essentially letting developers improve their apps to function more efficiently on these low-end phones.
Safer In-App Browsing
Google has brought the Safe Browsing API to WebView as well with this update. Now, apps can detect whether the URL they’re about to navigate to has been classified as a threat by Google or not. We don’t have a whole lot of information on how this will actually work for now.
Wallpaper Color Extraction
Android 8.1 also comes with an API that enables apps to retrieve the details of the wallpaper you’ve applied. On the Pixel 2 phones, for instance, the notification shade changes its theme to either light or dark based on the current backdrop.
New Easter Egg
Instead of showing a big ‘O’ when you tap the Android version multiple times in the settings, Android 8.1 displays a giant Oreo biscuit. Unfortunately, tapping it still fires up that weird Octopus thingy. In addition to this, the system Oreo icon has also been updated to resemble an actual biscuit. Sweet.
Transparent Quick Settings
Android 8.1 also ushers a transparent quick settings panel to Pixel and Nexus phones. The feature was previously limited to the new Pixel 2 only.
New Power Button Menu
Another Pixel 2 feature Android 8.1 brings to older phones is a new power button menu. Now, long-pressing the power button reveals a much compact that appears next to the physical hardware button on the screen.
Minor Design Changes in Settings
It seems like Google loves to experiment with how the settings app looks and with Android 8.1, it’s moving elements around again. This time, the app has been retouched to flaunt a relatively cleaner aesthetic than before.
Dynamic Navigation Bar
The navigation bar turns white whenever you launch the settings app. This most probably means Google will be soon bringing a dynamic bar which will update based on the app’s configurations. A similar approach has been available for the top status bar for ages now.
Depending on the wallpaper, the system UI on your compatible Nexus or Pixel phone will switch to light or dark theme. This affects the Quick Settings notification shade, Pixel launcher, app shortcuts and other core elements. This feature as well was initially limited to the Pixel 2 phones.
Stock Android finally (finally!) allows you to check the remaining battery on the connected Bluetooth devices. The detail is accessible from the Bluetooth settings and from the Quick Settings panel too.