Google recently introduced Android 8.1 Developer Preview tailored to give Android app developers a glimpse idea of what the future holds for Android apps. Earlier before this release, there were rumors that Google would jump straight to Android P. The full version of Android 8.1 is set to be released in December 2017.
Remember Google said both Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 are fitted with a custom imaging chip, Pixel Visual Core support, that is currently not been utilized. Now, the new Android 8.1 seeks to use this chip for third-party mobile applications.
On the same point, Android app developers will be able to incorporate Pixel 2 line HDR + photography to virtually any mobile application, not just Google camera software. Android app developers may also need to experiment with multiple applications to identify one whose picture quality meets the app owner preferences, especially when sharing on social media platforms.
It is also important for Android app developers to note that you do not necessarily have to use a Pixel 2 to enjoy the benefits of Android 8.1. There is a neural networking programming kit that is designed to offer hardware boosted machine learning with the support of frameworks such as TensorFlow Lite. Google team is also fine-tuning the memory use to achieve peak performance for low-cost Android Go Devices.
Also, there is a new kit that allows Android app developers to provide shared memory and speed access to shared data that the apps rely on to function. The Google Autofill framework will also come in handy for people to rely on password managers.
Any user who is already a member of the Android Beta Program can install the Android 8.1 developer preview on Google devices that are compatible such as Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and Pixel XL. However, if you are not an Android app developer, it is recommended to wait until the final update is released in December to take full advantage of the features. The current version could also have some bugs.
Below is an overview of the new features that Android 8.1 offers.
SHARED MEMORY API
Using Shared Memory API, Android applications will be able to create, map and manage anonymous shared memory as well as manage protection control in a bid to protect the Android mobile users from security breaches. This API is AIDL friendly, parcelable, and makes it possible to do other tasks such as modifying file/data write permissions.
With Android 8.1 in place, Autofill services and password managers will now be able to take full advantage of the Autofill framework.
NEURAL NETWORKS API
Neural Networks API is designed to support hardware accelerate inference operations on all Google devices that are compatible such as Nexus 6P. This AIP is an integral foundation layer of other important ML frameworks such as TensorFlow Lite and Caffe2. Android app developers should definitely take a look at this feature.
ANDROID GO TARGETING AND MEMORY OPTIMIZATION
Android 8.1 offers Android app developers a series of memory optimizations that aim at improving Android Go configurations. New hardware feature constants will be able to target distribution of APK splits and apps to either low RAM (Random Access Memory) or normal devices that are running on Android 8.1 operating system.
Low power Android Go devices (devices whose system memory is below 1 gigabyte) will be optimized to provide optimal support to devices that will be running on Android 8.1 Oreo.
PIXEL VISUAL CORE
For a long time, Pixel Visual Core image processing chip that is found on Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 has been inactive. This chip is designed to improve the quality of images on both devices and enable HDR+ by using machine learning. Once this update is released in December, Android applications will have HDR+ capabilities.
COMPATIBLE ANDROID DEVICES
Here is a list of the devices that are compatible with Android 8.1.
Android 8.1 will undoubtedly improve the design and functioning of Android apps on all the supported devices. Android app development companies who are conversant with how the OS works can already start reaping the benefits, but for ordinary Android users with limited programming knowhow should wait until December when the full update will be released, hopefully, free of bugs.