After teasing last week, Google today launched the Android 8.1 Developer Preview. Available for Pixel and Nexus devices, this new version of Android features a number of under-the-hood changes. We’re compiling a list of all the changes and new functionality, so follow along.

New Oreo Easter Egg

Tapping the Android version number in 8.0 brought up a generic ‘O’ logo for Oreo. This has finally been remedied (via Reddit) in Android 8.1 with a proper logo in the shape of a cookie that has the Android robot printed on its face.

However, tapping again it does not bring up a new Oreo-themed game, but rather same Octopus animation introduced with Developer Preview 4 on late July.

Colored and dimming navigation bar

On Android 8.1, Pixel devices color their navigation bar. For instance, in Settings, the nav bar is now white to match the app (via Reddit), while the buttons themselves dim after several seconds (via Twitter).

Removed sRGB toggle on 2016 Pixel

Already absent from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Android 8.1 removed the “Picture color mode” to “Use sRGB” toggle in Developer options for last year’s Pixel devices (via Twitter).

Android 8.0

Transparent Quick Settings drawer for older devices

The Pixel 2 added transparent Quick Settings that allowed users to continue to see what’s behind the drawer. With Android 8.1, this new design is also available on older devices, include the Nexus 6P (via Reddit).

New floating power menu

Like transparent Quick Settings, Android 8.1 also brings the new floating power menu that appears next to the physical hardware button to older devices (via Reddit). Like Quick Settings, it also adapts color depending on your background wallpaper and features controls for “Power off” and “Restart.”

Light/dark themes based on wallpaper

Depending on your wallpaper, the system UI can now adopt a light or dark theme. This applies to the Quick Settings shade, Power menu, Pixel Launcher (app drawer, folder background, Google Feed), app shortcuts, and other parts of the interface.

Note on Ambient Display

Earlier this morning, an original Pixel XL user claimed to have Ambient Display in the System UI Tuner after installing the Developer Preview. Several users, have chimed in to note that this is not the case. DP1 on our 2016 Pixel does not yield the Always-on Ambient Display option, while Navigation bar and Lock screen are absent on a Pixel 2 XL running Android 8.1.

The Google+ user in question has posted a screen recording as proof, though it’s unclear how that was replicated.

Easier to find gestures settings

The settings app got lots of updates with Android 8.1. One more thing we noticed is that the gesture settings are much easier to find. Previously, in version 8.0, Languages, Input, and Gestures were a single menu and the gestures were hidden under an “Advanced” tab. Now they’re front and center in the System section of the Settings app.

“Running in the background” notification becomes “using battery”

Android Oreo added a persistent notification that constantly notes when apps are running in the background. In 8.1, it now reads as “[x] apps are using battery” (via Reddit). Fortunately, users are now able to remove it by holding down on the notification and toggling the category off.

Tinted lockscreen and homescreen when Quick Settings drawn

Further building on how Android 8.1’s system UI adapts to your wallpaper, there is now a slight tint on the background of both the lockscreen and when you pull down Quick Settings. Based on your wallpaper, this tint serves to make backgrounds slightly more colorful and better than the generic darker hue.

Rounded Quick Settings and Status Bar icons

Various icons in Quick Settings and the Status Bar are now rounded at their edges. These include WiFi, cellular indicator, and the battery, which is now slightly narrower than before.

Left/right padding in Status Bar and Navigation Bar

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL added padding to the left and right of the status bar to likely account for the latter device’s rounded corners. This is now applied to all devices on DP1, while there is also some padding in the navigation bar as seen by enabling keycodes. Previously, these extra buttons came closer to the edge of the nav bar.

New System icon

Similar to how there is a new Oreo-themed Easter Egg, Android 8.0’s system icon is now in a similar style. Previously, it was a generic layered ‘O’ logo. It’s visible when users have their devices plugged into a computer.

Post-setup Restore

In the past, users could only restore from a cloud backup or bring data over from another device during the setup process. However, as spotted by Android Police, users can now do so and “Finish setting up Pixel” after the fact.

The option appears as a suggestion at the top of the Settings app. Tapping “Finish setup” will open the “Bring your data from” screen seen during the setup process. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be another way to access this feature beyond the suggestion. As such, swiping away might mean it is no longer available.


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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: