It seems like the hype from the launch of Android 8.0 has barely died down, but it’s time to start looking forward to what’s next. Obviously, we won’t be receiving the next major release of Android – Android 9.0 – until sometime late next year, but for now, we have the incremental releases for Android 8.0 to get excited about. The first of those releases, Android 8.1, is entering developer preview today.
As outlined on the Android Developers Blog, there are a few major enhancements coming along with Android 8.1. The first is a set of general memory optimizations for Android Go devices, which are lower-end devices have 1GB of less of memory. These optimizations will allow developers to begin targeting their apps at both normal and low-RAM devices, so that should make it easier for devs to target Android Go users.
The other big addition comes in the form of the Neural Networks API. This will become the “foundational layer” for Google’s machine learning framework, TensorFlow Lite. There isn’t much to report about TensorFlow today, but Google promises that more news is coming soon. For now, it looks we can view this as Google priming the machine learning engine.
Google has also delivered some Autofill enhancements with Android 8.1, along with a new shared memory API. Those round out the big features that Google is adding with this release, and now it’s inviting developers to test their apps in the preview before the consumer release rolls out in December. That means that it won’t be much longer before Android 8.1 rolls out on a large scale.
Google notes that the Android 8.1 APIs are final, so developers can begin publishing app updates to Google Play once they’ve tested them within the preview. To get the preview (even if you aren’t a developer), you only need to sign up for the Android Beta Program and you’ll have the 8.1 update pushed to your phone. If you’re already part of the beta, you should see that update land on your device soon, so keep an eye out.