First available on the Pixel and Pixel XL, Android 7.1 includues several new developer APIs that let apps add new functionality like launcher icon shortcuts. Google has now announced that Android 7.1 will launch as a developer preview later this month for existing Nexus devices and a final release is planned for early December.

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Android 7.1 includes a variety of optimizations and bug fixes over the initial Nougat release. The version adds new capabilities that third-party developers can take advantage of like app shortcuts that “let you surface key actions directly in the launcher.” Apps are allowed up to five static or dynamic shortcuts that take users directly into an expereince. Other new features include:

  • Circular app icons support — lets you provide great-looking rounded icon resources that match the look of Pixel and other launchers.
  • Enhanced wallpaper metadata — lets you provide metadata about your wallpapers to any picker displaying the wallpapers as a preview. You can show existing metadata such as label, description, and author, as well as a new context URL and title to link to more information.
  • Storage manager Intent — lets an app take the user directly to a new Settings screen to clear unused files and free up storage space on the device.

With the launch of Gboard for iOS, Google promised that its features would make its way to Android. This functionality is finally being added through image keyboard support that lets users enter custom stickers, animated gifs, and more. Apps can tell the keyboard what types of content they accept, and keyboards can deliver all of the images and other content.

The developer preview coming later this month will first be available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C, with other supported devices being updated by the end of the preview. The final consumer release of Android 7.1 is due in early December for the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, Player, Pixel C, and certain Android One devices.

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