Google Delivers First Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview

Android Oreo
Google launched Android 8.0 Oreo over the summer, but chances are pretty slim that your device has received the update unless you have a supported Pixel or Nexus device in-hand. Smartphone OEMs are notoriously slow to release major Android updates, but that isn't stopping Google from moving on to the next branch of Oreo: Android 8.1.

Android 8.1 is now available as a Developer Preview, and brings with a number of optimizations to make this tasty operating system even sweeter. For starters, Google has made optimizations for Android Go, which is a fork of Android that is geared towards devices with 1GB or less of memory. Google has also implemented switches which allows developers to deliver APKs to devices based on the amount of RAM they have onboard.

Also new with Android 8.1 is a Neural Networks API, which brings hardware-accelerated "interface operations" for device that support the feature. Google says that the Neural Networks API forms the building blocks for the machine learning frameworks that it has in development like TensorFlow Lite.

android oero 2

In addition, this early Android 8.1 Developer Preview brings some updates to Autofill and gives apps the ability to access shared memory with the SharedMemory API.

One of the big updates planned for Android 8.1 that wasn't discussed with this initial release, is the Pixel Visual Core SoC. This custom Google chip is built into every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphone, and is designed to process HDR shots much faster than what's possible with a general purpose SoC. According to Google's analysis, the Pixel Visual Core is 5 times faster while using 1/10th the energy of existing hardware solutions.

Google will likely enable the feature in future Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Previews before rolling it out to all Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 Xl devices with the final OS release.