Android 8.1 brings the Neural Networks API, which is hardware accelerated machine learning runtime. It’ll support machine learning capabilities in apps. As a result, the supported devices can use this API to provide a base layer, higher-level, machine learning framework for many use cases.
Pixel 2 is one of the first devices to ship with dedicated machine learning chips named Pixel Visual Core. With Android 8.1 release, Google is turning this dormant chip ON for everybody. It’s worth noting that phones without specialized chips can take advantage of the new Neural Networks API by running TensorFlow Lite and other AI frameworks on-device.
This release also includes several improvements to Autofill Framework that developers can incorporate on their apps. Few changes to notifications and other obvious fixes and security improvements have also been made.
Android 8.1 also marks the release of Android Oreo (Go Edition), which is a lightweight and specially crafted version of the Android operating system for cheaper phones with less than 1GB RAM.
The update to supported Pixel and Nexus devices will be rolled out over the next week. Google says that it’s working with smartphone OEMs to bring Android 8.1 to more number of devices. The factory images for Pixel and Nexus devices are also being made available.
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