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Android 8.1 Release Date and Features

(Update) Android 8.1 has been released and is now available for OTA update on select devices.

(Update 06 Dec 2017): Google has released Android 8.1 alongside the Android Oreo Go Edition. Android 8.1 is currently only available to all Pixel devices and the Nexus 5X and 6P. The update contains the below mentioned features as expected.

Here is a detailed look at the features is this release:

Smart app caching

The latest update to the developer preview version of Android 8.1 has brought a key feature for devices with small internal storage. The feature will intelligently detect which installed apps are used the least, and restrict their ability to use cache. While the feature won't let users fully uninstall stock apps they aren't using, they will be able to minimize their impact on internal storage simply by ignoring them and letting Android run its smart caching restrictions in the background.

Detailed battery stats

Oreo developer previews also give us a glimpse at what might be the future of the Battery section in Settings. The redeveloped Battery section now shows not only which apps use the most battery, but also which particular features of the app are power-hungry. Users can then opt to disable individual features, such as notifications or location services within an app and continue using it with less of an impact on battery life.

Text Message Synchronisation / Continuity

Rumours claim the release version of Android 8.1 will bring the ability to read and reply to text messages via a Chromebook. So far it is anticipated that this functionality will only be available for Chromebooks upon the 8.1 update release, but may lay a base for users of the Chrome web browser to do the same thing on other devices in coming versions of the Android OS.

Pixel Visual Core

The Pixel Visual Core image processing feature looks as though it is to be enabled in Android 8.1 Oreo, producing better visuals across the board when using the Pixel image processing chip. Moreover, the Neural Networks API has been added allowing for hardware acceleration for apps requiring additional power. This could work in unison with the Pixel Visual Core image processing feature to allow for stunning HDR+ shooting across all camera apps installed on a given device, instead of being limited to Google's default camera app.

Security improvements

Small improvements for stability and OS glitch fixes are set to be included in the update and issues regarding the Wi-Fi security problem with the WPA2 security protocol are also to be resolved.

At the moment, the first live public update of Android 8.1 is expected in December 2017, though this would likely be for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices, with other Google devices soon to follow. Other manufacturer's devices can expect to be seeing the update some time next year though this depends on the manufacturers more than anything.


Impact Rating: 4