Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Apps can now only make one notification sound per second, and post-DND notification sound spam issue is fixed
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Toast messages are now white to better match the rest of the UI
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Status bar icons are now rounded and have padding on the left and right
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Pixel 2's Visual Core chip now enabled, and developers can use it
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: You can hide the 'running in the background' notification without a third-party app
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Google had rounded status bar icons in its phones' marketing materials for the Pixel, though the devices came with regular, squared-off icons in reality. But with the introduction of 8.1, we're finally getting legitimately rounded icons in the status bar, even if the change is extremely hard to notice. There's also now padding on the left and right sides of the status bar icons, regardless of whether it's necessary for your particular device.
It's hard to see in screenshots, but the WiFi, cellular, and battery icons have indeed been rounded off. Those of our more keen-eyed readers will be able to spot this in daily use, but I'm guessing most of you won't even notice. It is a nice touch, though, and goes better with the general design of the UI.
What's easier to notice is the extra padding Google has thrown in to the left and right sides of these icons. This was already in 8.0 on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL alike. Padding is necessary on phones like the Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2 XL that have rounded corners, but it's hard to see any practical purpose on the Pixel 2 and the Pixel XL (from which the screenshots above came). If we're being honest, it seems a bit lazy. But perhaps Google is just preparing for all phones to have rounded corners. After all, an awful lot do have them nowadays.
If you don't like the padding and you're handy with ADB, the guys over at XDA have made a guide showing how to disable it. To adjust the rounded corners, use this command (26.0 is the default for the 2 XL, and 0 for the 2):
adb shell settings put secure sysui_rounded_size x.x
And if you'd like to reduce the padding, use this command (default is 8.0 for both the 2 and 2 XL):
adb shell settings put secure sysui_rounded_content_padding x.x