If you love yourself some Android Oreo, we have some good news: even though Android 8.1 will be available by year’s end, you can give the upcoming update a whirl right now through the Android 8.1 Developer Preview.
Taking a look at what’s new, the biggest thing that stands out is the set of Pixel Visual Core features for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. In short, the Pixel Visual Core is a chip created in partnership with Intel that can compile HDR+ pictures up to 5x faster and consumer 1/10th the power. Generally, the chip allows Google‘s phones to process pictures and apply effects that other phones need another camera to pull off, as well as further Google’s focus on AI and machine learning.
Android 8.1 also introduces a small, but welcome, change to how notifications work. With the update, apps are limited to one notification alert sound per second. Alerts that exceed that rate will not be queued and will become lost.
The rest of the changes are under the hood, with features including apps being able to manage wallpaper colors, apps alerting Google to when a WebView instance sends folks to a website that sets off Safe Browsing, developers better able to target their apps for low-RAM devices, and a few other adjustments.
If you’re up to the task of trying out unfinished software, factory images are now available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL. Alternatively, you can wait for the OTA to hit your device if you are already enrolled in the Android Beta Program.
Regardless of which method you choose, you can check out our article for the factory images and OTA files for all aforementioned devices.