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27 November 2017

Final preview of Android 8.1 now available

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Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Starting today we're rolling out an update to the Android 8.1 developer preview, the last before the official launch to consumers in December. Android 8.1 adds targeted enhancements to the Oreo platform, including optimizations for Android Go (for devices with 1GB or less of memory) and a Neural Networks API to accelerate on-device machine intelligence. We've also included a few smaller enhancements to Oreo in response to user and developer feedback.

If you have a device enrolled in the Android Beta Program, you'll receive the update over the next few days. If you haven't enrolled yet, just visit the Android Beta site to enroll and get the update.

At the official release in December we'll bring Android 8.1 to all supported Pixel and Nexus devices worldwide -- including Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P. Watch for announcements soon.

What's in this update?

This preview update includes near-final Android 8.1 system images for Pixel and Nexus devices, with official APIs (API level 27), the latest optimizations and bug fixes, and the November 2017 security patch updates. You can use the images for compatibility testing or to develop using new Android 8.1 features like the Neural Networks API and others.

The Neural Networks API provides accelerated computation and inference for on-device machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow Lite -- Google's cross-platform ML library for mobile -- as well as Caffe2 and others. TensorFlow Lite is now available to developers, so visit the TensorFlow Lite open source repo for downloads and docs. TensorFlow Lite works with the Neural Networks API to run models like MobileNets, Inception v3, and Smart Reply efficiently on your mobile device.

Also, for Pixel 2 users, the Android 8.1 update on these devices enables Pixel Visual Core -- Google's first custom-designed co-processor for image processing and ML -- through a new developer option. Once enabled, apps using Android Camera API can capture HDR+ shots through Pixel Visual Core. See the release notes for details.

Get your apps ready

With the consumer launch coming in December, it's important to test your current app now. This ensures that users transition seamlessly to Android 8.1 when it arrives on their devices.

Just enroll your eligible device in Android Beta to get the latest update, then install your app from Google Play and test. If you don't have a Pixel or Nexus device, you can set up an Android 8.1 emulator for testing instead. If you notice any issues, fix them and update your app in Google Play right away -- without changing the app's platform targeting.

When you're ready, take advantage of new features and APIs in Android 8.1. See the developer preview site, the API 27 diff report, and the updated API reference for details.

Speed your development with Android Studio

To build with Android 8.1, we recommend updating to Android Studio 3.0, which is now available from the stable channel. On top of the new app performance profiling tools, support for the Kotlin programming language, and Gradle build optimizations, Android Studio 3.0 makes it easier to develop with Android Oreo features like Instant Apps, XML Fonts, downloadable fonts, and adaptive icons.

We also recommend updating to the Android Support Library 27.0.0, which is available from Google's Maven repository. See the version notes for details on what's new.

Publish your updates to Google Play

Google Play is open for apps compiled against or targeting API 27. When you're ready, you can publish your APK updates in your alpha, beta, or production channels.

To make sure your app runs well on Android 8.1 as well as older versions, we recommend using Google Play's beta testing feature to run an alpha test on small group of users. Then run a much open beta test on a much larger group of users. When you're ready to launch your update, you can use a staged rollout in your production channel. We're looking forward to seeing your app updates!

Give us your feedback

As always, your feedback is crucial, so please keep it coming!. We've set up different hotlists where you can report Android platform issues, app compatibility issues, and third-party SDKs and tools issues. We also have a dedicated hotlist for Neural Networks API issues.

You can also give us feedback through the Android Developer community or Android Beta community as we work towards the consumer release in December.