This week, Google announced Android 8.1 Oreo in the form of a developer preview. This is the first follow-up version to Android 8.0 Oreo, which released publicly back in August and comes pre-loaded on some newer Android models such as Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
Google confirmed on October 4, the day it introduced the world to Pixel 2, that future Android Oreo updates were “coming.” The first one is here, it’s version 8.1, and it’s available to select Nexus and Pixel owners as an early developer preview. The links to this “maintenance release” are live, and the public release has been slated for the end of this year.
Rather than going straight to a public release of Android 8.1, Google announced the first of two developer previews (the later coming in November). The purpose of this is to get device manufacturers and developers working on the update early, in hope to reduce Android’s fragmentation. It also lets certain users opt-in for pre-release updates, who can experiment and then provide feedback directly to Google. By the time the official release comes around, as a result of this process, most bugs and issues are resolved.
The build is compatible with Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel XL, Pixel, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X. Owners of any of these devices can now flash factory image files, or opt-in to receive over-the-air updates through the Android Beta Program. All else will have to wait.
There are perks to each installation method. If you would like to upgrade from Android 8.0 to Android 8.1 on your compatible device, you can do so by joining Google’s Android Beta Program here. This will not touch 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. The other option is to flash system images, which is quicker and sometimes less painful, but does remove any and all files stored on your phone. The files are available here and the OTA zip files can be downloaded here.
New with just about every Android update are bug fixes, so expect many of the hiccups found in the initial version of Android Oreo to be fixed here. Also present are a slew of touches throughout the interface, as well as beneath the hood changes that enable your device to perform at maximum efficiency (battery, performance, etc.). There are also some feature additions and alterations including changes to notification sounds, a new Oreo cookie Easter egg in settings, automatically changing light and dark themes, a search bar in settings, Bluetooth device battery levels, new fonts, a redesigned power menu, and more!
Remember, this is a developer preview, so unless you have a second device for testing purposes, Google nor us recommends that you proceed in installing this update. Google explicitly noted there could be stability issues causing some apps to crash and not work properly. For the full list of risks, head here.
We’ll notify you when we get the next preview build, and exactly when the software becomes available for more devices. Follow our Droid Updates weekly series, where we roundup all the Android updates rolled out each week.
Let us know in the comments if you have a compatible device and elected to try Android 8.1, and if so, how you’re liking or disliking what you’ve experienced thus far.
As always, stay tuned to Droid Turf, your source for extensive coverage of the Android Ecosystem.