Android 8.1 Oreo rolling out today: Here are the new features

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As promised, the stable, final build of Android 8.1 Oreo is starting to roll out today, December 5. What will change with the new version? We take a look at what the next update will bring to the table.

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After a couple of developer previews, the final build of Android 8.1 Oreo will first come to Google's own Pixel phones, the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, the first Pixels, plus the Nexus 6P, the Nexus 5X and the Pixel C tablet.

Android 8.1 Oreo: new features

Alerts for battery consumption

The battery manager interface has gone through minor refinements and will better monitor apps that consume more battery power. Currently, the interface already shows us which apps are spending more power, however, with Android 8.1 Oreo an alert will be sent to the user with details of the app's battery use. This notification will appear in the notification bar and on the lock screen.

When a notification is sent, just tap it and the system will suggest some commands that will limit the app's power-guzzling. Android 8.1 also shows when an app is running in the background and frequently using features such as requesting an update when the screen is turned off.

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Notification alert (3 apps are using battery). / © NextPit

Visual Core

Those of you who bought the latest smartphones from Google can rejoice, because you're going to get some goodies. This is the release of Pixel Visual Core, the first mobile chip developed by Google. At first the new chipset was restricted to the camera software controlled by Google, native to the Pixel models.

Now, however, Android 8.1 will allow other companies to integrate features and use the exclusive HDR + function of Pixel 2. Unfortunately, only apps running on Pixel 2 can take advantage of this integration. HDR + mode excels by offering a truly functional, real-time feature that gives the user a faithful result in contrast and color.

Interface changes

Google is optimizing some details of the Android Oreo interface. The system may receive darker colors on the main menus, widgets, and the main Dock when a black-colored wallpaper is applied. In addition to optimizing this adaptation, Google is allowing developers to adapt the interface of their applications based on the predominant color of the wallpaper.

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Oreo 8.1 brings dark theme updates. / © NextPit

TensorFlow Lite

Developers will be able to optimize the artificial intelligence of their applications through TensorFlow Lite, which allows neural network operations to be performed locally on the device using hardware acceleration. The Neural Networks API is also linked to the Visual Core chip and other frameworks, such as Caffe2. This means that services like Google Assistant will be smarter and integrated with other apps that will be able to take advantage of a dedicated machine learning computing chip.

Optimizations for models with 1GB RAM

It's a little bold to say that 1GB models will get Android 8.1 or even get close, but Google is trying their best. It turns out that Google is working to enable smartphones that are part of Android Go, with 1GB of RAM, to receive simpler versions of apps and games without major impacts on overall performance. Instant apps should also ensure that devices with superior hardware can run apps in web format.

In addition to the important optimizations mentioned above, Android 8.1 Oreo brings the following improvements:

  • A new calendar widget
  • Central shortcut is now slightly transparent
  • The "Gestures" menu is now highlighted in the system settings
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Transparent and high-speed Bluetooth accessory battery power station for fast watches. / © NextPit
  • You can see the battery level of Bluetooth accessories connected to the system
  • Improvements to the autofill system
  • Turn off and restart menu has been remodeled
  • "Help and Support" section has been redrawn

Emoji updates

It was brought to the attention of Google CEO Sundar Pichai that the hamburger and beer emoji had some issues, and he has since seen to it that these problems be fixed with all due haste. The hamburger was compiled in the wrong order, and the beer was mysteriously frothy despite being half-empty. Android 8.1 addresses these pressing issues by filling the beer mug all the way up and putting the cheese on top of the burger patty where it belongs. Thanks, Sundar.

Are you excited to receive the new version? Which features do you want that are missing?

This article was created by Bruno Salutes and updated with contributions from Brittany McGhee on December 5, 2017.

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  • Abdul Ghafoor Dec 5, 2017 Link to comment

    Given how little things change with a new version these days, I'm surprised Google didn't call this Android 9.0.

  • Rusty H. Dec 5, 2017 Link to comment

    So other than the battery manager (which I turn off since I have a 4,000mAH battery), it's more window dressing?