Google announces the Android 8.1 Oreo beta with a Neural Networks API

It's only been a couple of months since Google unveiled the latest version of Android, 8.0 Oreo. Although that version is only installed on 0.2% of Google Play devices according to the company's latest usage breakdown, it's already releasing a developer preview of Android 8.1.

The build is currently available for the following devices:

  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6P
  • Pixel C
  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2 XL

Notably missing from the list is the Nexus Player. That doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't going to be an image made available for the device in the future; after all, it took Google a month just to get Oreo out for the Player. We've reached out to the company for confirmation.

The new version of the OS will be API level 27, whereas 8.0 was 26. It contains a Neural Networks API, with "hardware acceleration for on-device machine learning operations." Google says that apps typically won't be calling the API, and that it's used by machine learning libraries and frameworks.

API level 27 will also be able to target low-RAM devices, which will allow the Play Store to highlight apps that are more suited to a device's specs. There are also changes to notifications, such as that some notification calls don't work on low-RAM devices, and apps can only make one notification alert per second.

If you're not willing to try out a beta, Google says that Android 8.1 Oreo will be finalized in December.

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