[Update: Dimming is system-wide] Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Settings now has a colored navigation bar that dims
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: A new Oreo Easter egg appears (in Double Stuf form?), but the octopus remains
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Android System notifications have a new Oreo icon
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Bluetooth battery level comes to all devices, now shows battery bar in Quick Settings
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Settings gets a search bar on top à la Pixel 2
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Android 8.1 has quite a few minor changes, ranging from a new easter egg to the new dimming navigation bar. Another small tweak is the icon for Android System notifications, which are used to display messages about updates, debugging, and other similar functions.
The icon used in 8.0 is the same used in the developer previews - three circles. Since the Oreo name wasn't confirmed until very close to release, it makes sense that the Oreo branding wouldn't be present at that time. Now the icon has been tweaked in Android 8.1, turning it into an Oreo cookie.
There's not much else to say about the change. It wasn't an Oreo before, and now it is.