It seems like only yesterday we were enjoying our first real taste of Android Oreo, yet already Google is rolling out an updated version of its new mobile OS. Here are the best new features and changes in the final Android 8.1 Oreo build, along with its release date – and how you can download it today.
As you’d expect, Android 8.1 Oreo is an incremental update that builds out some of the new features found in the first version of Oreo, but there’s plenty worth checking out. Here’s everything that’s new in Android 8.1 plus key details on installing the latest version of Android O.
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What’s new in Google’s Android 8.1 Oreo update?
Android 8.1 Oreo was designed to improve on the shortcomings of Android 8.0 Oreo – but that’s not to mean it doesn’t bring any new features to the table, because it does.
The most notable addition is a refreshed cheeseburger emoji. Yes, you read that right. Google CEO Sundar Pichai actually made good on his comical promise to redesign the icon, placing the cheese (correctly) above the meat patty. And the other main change is that the accompanying beer is now full, rather than half-empty.
OK, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. The release is actually headlined by Google’s new Neural Networks API, which allows applications to take advantage of hardware acceleration, reducing latency and network loads.
That’s closely followed by Big G’s decision to open its Pixel Visual Core co-processing technology to third-party developers, letting them utilise its advanced machine learning algorithms and image processing tools.
What does that mean for the average consumer, you ask? Well, in addition to taking advantage of a slew of smarter applications, they’ll finally be able to shoot in HDR+ outside of Google’s native camera application.
Here’s a full list of the (notable) changes bundled in Android 8.1 Oreo:
- Battery: If a user has a Bluetooth device connected to their smartphone, they’ll be able to see how much power it has from the Quick Settings shade.
- Browsing: Safer Browsing allows applications from third-party developers to detect WebView attempts, which could point to malicious URLs.
- Fingerprint: Users can instruct their unit to disable the fingerprint reader once an unregistered fingerprint is attempted multiple times.
- Android 8.1 Oreo fixes an issue that resulted in the Nexus 5X not playing audio through the speaker.
- Android 8.1 Oreo fixes an issue that resulted in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL distorting audio while streaming video.
- Notification: Applications are restricted to pushing one notification chime per second – and can, of course, be muted altogether.
Is the Android 8.1 Oreo update ready for my phone?
In typical fashion, Google is the distributing the Android 8.1 Oreo update in stages. It started rolling out for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL on December 5 – and should reach near-stock Android smartphones in the near future.
Those in possession of a more heavily-skinned handset from a third-party manufacturer – an LG G6 or a Samsung Galaxy S8, for example – will probably need to wait a bit longer for the release to arrive, though, as it’ll have to be integrated into existing overlays.
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How do I download Android 8.1 Oreo on my smartphone?
If you have reason to believe the Android 8.1 Oreo upgrade is making the rounds for your smartphone, head into Settings, followed by About Device, then tap Download Updates Manually to check to see if it’s ready.
Related: Android Oreo features
What do you think of the new features in Android 8.1 Oreo? Tweet your first impressions to us @TrustedReviews.