While the vast majority of devices haven’t even updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, Google’s moving forward with the next iteration of their mobile operating system.
Android users with compatible Nexus or Pixel devices — the Nexus 5X and 6P, as well as the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL — can try out Android 8.1 now.
Nexus and Pixel users can sign up for the Android Beta Program and wait to receive an over-the-air update for Android 8.1. If they don’t want to wait, however, they can also download and flash the Android 8.1 system image to their devices.
Be warned, manually flashing a system image removes all data from your device. Additionally, manually installed system images do not receive over-the-air updates to future developer previews.
Don’t forget that, according to Google, you need an unlocked bootloader to install this developer preview.
What’s new in Android 8.1
Android 8.1 doesn’t bring any major revisions to Google’s mobile operating system.
According to Android Authority, “the biggest thing that stands out is the set of Pixel Visual Core features for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.”
The Pixel Visual Core (PVC) is Google’s custom imaging chip that ships with every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL device. As MobileSyrup’s Igor Bonifacic explained, the PVC will eventually allow third-party app developers to “enhance the HDR capabilities of their own photography apps, according to the company.”
The PVC is also incredibly useful when it comes to compiling HDR photos.
Other Android 8.1 updates include improved notification alert settings that prevent apps from generating more than one notification alert sound per second. This will no doubt be an incredibly welcome revision for those users sick of messaging apps constantly announcing new messages.
Other changes include an update to how apps manage wallpaper colours — which will no doubt allow future bezel-less devices and notched devices, like the Essential Phone, to better distinguish between an app’s boundaries and the notification bar.
This is the first of two Android 8.1 develop previews.
Source: Google, Android Authority