Pixel 2 camera

Just over a month after the last build, Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 is here for a whole bunch of Google devices.

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.

Before and after HDR+

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
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel C
  • Nexus 5X.
  • Nexus 6P

You can download the preview over the air through the Android Beta Program, or by manually downloading the Developer Preview image from the Android Developers website.