Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Mobile data quick setting toggle asks if you really want to turn if off
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Emergency alerts get a history list and reorganized settings
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Ambient Display now has the date and an upcoming alarm
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: You can now restore backed up data after initial setup process
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Power off and restart screens get a new coat of paint, and restart screen now says 'Restarting...'
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Google made some big changes to Ambient Display in 8.0, not all of which made people happy. It was a very minimal interface, rather than being a monochrome version of the lock screen. In Android 8.1, Google is adding a few new elements to Ambient Display, but it's still keeping the minimal vibe.
Those on the 8.1 developer preview have noticed that Ambient Display includes the date and upcoming alarms. These are both shown right under the time and above the row of notification icons. The alarm item won't show up if you don't have one coming scheduled, of course. The layout is also a little different in that case (see above). Google also has the display very slowly creep across the screen in order to fight burn-in.
The version from 8.0
As with so many things in this update, the improved Ambient Display was already live on the Pixel 2 and 2 XL at launch. That build of 8.0 has a ton of features that are just now being made official in 8.1.