- Borrows visual features like adaptive themes from Pixel 2
- Developers get third-party access to the Pixel Visual Core on Pixel 2
- Big push to Android Go with better app optimisation on low-RAM phones
Android 8.1 Oreo, after being publicly tested with two developer preview versions, has now been released. The update, which is available for eligible Pixel and Nexus devices, will be made available over-the-air (OTA). Factory images and OTA files are also available for download and installation. The general release of Android 8.1 Oreo comes just a week after Google released the final developer preview for the software version. The update also includes the December Android security patches, which comprises over 50 fixes for Android and Google devices, with the KRACK WPA2 Wi-Fi vulnerabilities amongst those patched.
Android 8.1 borrows a lot of aesthetic upgrades from the Pixel 2 and brings them to Google’s other devices. These include features like the Pixel Launcher that gets the new bottom search bar. It also brings the new adaptive light/dark themes based on the set wallpaper to other Pixel and Nexus devices. Yet another cool adaptive feature offers a cool tint on lockscreen and homescreen based on the wallpaper.
The software update also has the new transparent Quick Settings menu that has earlier been present on the Pixel 2. The Pixel 2’s burn-in issues have also been addressed with a new, lighter navigation bar that dims when not in use in numerous apps including Settings.
Developers also get the much-needed third-party access to the Pixel Visual Core on Pixel 2 with Android 8.1. There is also a new Neural Network API that improves on-device machine learning, clearly a push towards better AI integration into Google’s hardware. Also new are Autofill enhancements and a SharedMemory API. Android 8.1 Oreo also brings support for Android Oreo (Go edition), officially launched at the Google for India event in New Delhi on Tuesday, allowing OEMs and developers to better target low-RAM devices.
All factory images and full OTA links are available on Google’s developer portal for download. OTA updates will appear slowly on Pixel and Nexus devices but if you can download them instantly if you know how to upload the factory image or sideload an OTA update. Eligible Google devices include the Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.