The beta version of the next Android update might be right around the corner.

Google has announced today that the first developer preview of Android Oreo 8.1 Maintenance Release will be made available to developers and users "over the coming weeks". In a blog post this morning, they revealed that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL house a specialised, in-house smartphone SoC called the "Pixel Visual Core", which is a dedicated unit for image processing. Google stated that while the feature is not currently available, it will be enabled on the new Pixel's in the Android 8.1 update.

This first maintenance release of Android Oreo will be rolling out first to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. While this isn't the largest assortment of Android smartphones imaginable, it does make sense as Google targets updates to its own phones before other OEMs; especially considering the modifications and changes that OEMs may make to updates with regards to implementing their own skins and features. This move makes even more sense given the enabling of the Pixel Visual Core on the newer Pixel's. We have no information at the moment regarding the capabilities of the Pixel Visual Core, so we're excited to see what Google's first in-house smartphone SoC can do to enhance the already stellar camera performance on the new Pixels.

Aside from speculation regarding a new Bluetooth Battery Life display function (XDA) we also have very little information on the changes and additions that Android 8.1 will bring to the forefront. While large new features and UI overhauls are typically reserved for new versions of Android, a number of smaller additions to the operating system can traditionally be expected on an iterative ".1" update. For instance, Google introduced App Shortcuts, support for circular icons, image keyboard support (like GIFs and stickers in Gboard), and other minor changes in Android Nougat 7.1 – meaning if Google stick to their trend we can expect more than just "bug fixes". We can expect to find out more about this update over the next few weeks though, so watch this space.

What do you guys think? Will you download this update to your Pixel or Pixel 2? Are you excited to see what Google's new SoC can add to their image processing? Let us know in the comments, or post over in the forums with your thoughts.

via Google