If you're not using a Pixel 2 or a Pixel 2 XL, you might not notice a lot of changes in this release, other than bug fixes, but for Pixel 2 owners, there's a huge new change – the Pixel Visual Core has been activated.
The latest Pixels' cameras were already quite impressive, but Pixel Visual Core, Google's new in-house chip, will make things even better. Specifically designed for making image processing and machine learning tasks faster and more energy-efficient, Google claims that the chip will make HDR+ run five times faster, using less than one-tenth of the energy, compared to standard CPUs. And now, this chip is being activated for all third-party apps using the Android Camera API, bringing HDR+ to many photography apps that exist for the operating system.
While this is the main big change in this preview compared to Developer Preview 1, as a recap, here are some noteworthy features coming in Android 8.1:
- A new Neural Networks API for more efficient handling of Machine Learning operations
- Various design tweaks, including phones receiving some features introduced in Pixel 2 devices, such as the new power menu and wallpaper-dependent dark theme
- Improvements for low-RAM devices
As usual, this preview is available for Google's newer devices:
- Pixel 2
- Pixel 2 XL
- Pixel XL
- Pixel C
- Nexus 5X.
- Nexus 6P