Back in October, Google announced its first Android 8.1 Oreo developer preview to follow-up Android 8.0 Oreo, the company’s major overhaul that released publicly in late August. We’ve begun to see manufacturers launch devices running Android 8.0 pre-loaded, and update some of their older devices to the new software, but Google is already focused on what’s next. This week, the search giant revealed the second Android 8.1 developer preview.
We were aware this update was coming, because the company confirmed on October 4 that Oreo would be updated, and later announced that there would be two beta previews (this being the second) of Android 8.1 prior to its public release. The second preview for select Nexus and Pixel owners is available now. Links to this “maintenance release” are live, and the public release is expected out around the end of this year.
Rather than going straight to a public release of Android 8.1, Google elected to do two developer preview. The purpose of this is to get device manufacturers and developers working on the software early to reduce Android’s fragmentation. It also permits certain users to opt-in for these pre-release updates, who can experiment and provide feedback. This way, the official release is clear of most bugs and issues.
All devices that received the first Android 8.1 beta are compatible with the second beta. This means that Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel XL, Pixel, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X are eligible. Owners of any of these devices can now flash factory image files or update to the second beta over-the-air if enrolled in the Android Beta Program. If you didn’t install the first beta and want to give the second beta a try, you can skip over the first beta if you have Android 8.0 installed by simply enrolling your compatible device in the Android Beta Program here. Everyone else must wait.
Enrolling in the Android Beta Program will not affect your stored files, unless you decide to revert back to Android 8.0 at which point your device will be erased. Those on the program must stay on the program until the public release of the software is released to have no harm done, and security patches will be supplied just as they usually are, along the journey. Those already on the Oreo beta train should see an over-the-air update any day now for beta two. The other option is to flash system images, which is quicker, but removes any and all files stored on your device. The files are available here and the OTA zip files can be downloaded here.
New with just about every Android update, especially beta updates, are bug fixes, so expect lots of fixes from the initial version of Android Oreo as well as the initial Android 8.1 beta. Other than that, most else is the same as the first beta, which brought touches throughout the interface and beneath the hood changes allowing one’s device to perform at optimum efficiency (battery, performance, etc.). No features seem to have been added in this beta, though the feature additions in the first Android 8.1 beta seem to be working better. Some of the major ones include: changes to notification sounds, new Oreo cookie Easter egg, automatically changing light and dark themes, a search bar in settings, Bluetooth device battery levels, new fonts, and a redesigned power menu.
Do keep in mind this is a developer preview still, so unless you have a second device for testing purposes, Google nor us recommends that you proceed in installing this update. Google did, however mention that the update entails “near-final system images” and should be used for “final testing.” So the risk of performance issues has been cut back quite a bit since the first beta, making this one more worth your consideration. For the full list of vulnerabilities and possible stability issues, head here.
We’ll notify you when we hear about the official release, and exactly when the software becomes available for more Android devices. To find out when, follow our Droid Updates weekly series, where we round-up all the Android updates rolled out each week.
If you have a compatible device and elected to update to the beta, let us know what you like and dislike about the software in the comment section below. And as always, stay tuned to Droid Turf for more in-depth coverage of the Android Ecosystem.