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android 8.1

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Recent apps now show in 'Apps & notifications' settings menu

So far, the changes we've uncovered in the Android Oreo 8.1 developer preview have mostly been superficial and/or relatively minor. This one's no different, even if it is rather useful. The 'Apps & notifications' section in settings is the place to get app info, choose which apps show notifications, or change permissions and defaults, among other similar functions. In the 8.1 dev preview, this menu has been updated to include recent apps.

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Android 8.1 OTAs rolling out to beta users while manual OTA files temporarily on hold due to flashing errors

The images for the Android 8.1 developer preview may have gone live yesterday, but it took a full day for the OTA update to start rolling out. If you signed up for the Android Beta Program on a compatible device, you should see the 8.1 developer preview update hit your device soon.

On that note, Google also seems to have pulled the manual OTA file downloads for the 8.1 developer preview, so right now your only options for migrating to the developer preview are registering for the Android Beta Program and waiting for the update, or flashing from the full factory images onto an unlocked bootloader. 

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Wallpaper-based themes include tinted notification and power menu shadows, just like the Pixel 2 [Update: Lock screen, too]

The Pixel 2 and 2 XL include a number of small tweaks that other 8.0 devices, even the OG Pixels, don't have. For example, the home screen's theme changes based on your wallpaper. We already knew that was coming to more phones in 8.1, and there's another theme feature from the Pixel 2 that's in 8.1 as well. Accent colors are pulled from your wallpaper for the notification and power menu shadows.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: You can hide the 'running in the background' notification without a third-party app

Android 8.0 introduced some big changes to notifications, but not all of them have been well received. The "running in the background" notification could be annoying if you always have something like a VPN active. We covered a way to get rid of that notification with a third-party app, but the Android 8.1 dev preview makes it possible to hide it without installing anything else.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Pixel 2's Visual Core chip now enabled, and developers can use it

One of the new features in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is the 'Visual Core.' As we covered before, this is a custom chip developed by Google to improve photo processing. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL shipped with this chip disabled, with Google promising that it would be activated "in the coming months."

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Apps can now only make one notification sound per second, and post-DND notification sound spam issue is fixed

Have you ever had the experience of turning your phone back on after running out of juice several hours prior, only to be bombarded with a barrage of delayed notifications, beeping and pinging as soon as it connects to the internet? Or maybe you're just in a particularly chatty WhatsApp group and someone decides to send everyone else 20 photos all at once, sending your phone's poor vibration motor into a frenzy? Yeah, that can get annoying.

Fortunately, a change in Android 8.1 aims to address this issue. According to documentation on the new features in the developer preview, apps can now only make a notification alert sound once per second, even if more notifications come in at the same time.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: 'Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep' option removed, as on the Pixel 2

If you have an incredibly detailed memory, you may recall as far back as around 24 hours ago, when we talked about how the "Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep" setting was apparently removed for the Pixel 2s. We felt that it was a confusing, unnecessary, and potentially unintentional change, but Google is doubling down. With the latest Android 8.1 developer preview images, the option is now missing on more than just the Pixel 2, likely confirming that the change was intended. 

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[Update: Not all devices] Android 8.1 feature spotlight: The sRGB toggle has been removed entirely from Developer options

Calibrated color has been a hot topic recently for both Android and the Pixel 2 phones, and the Android 8.1 developer previews indicate more changes on the horizon. As of the current preview images, the "Picture color mode" sRGB toggle in Developer options has been removed. This change makes devices like the OG Pixels and last-generation Nexuses match the new Pixel 2 and 2XL, which similarly lack the setting since a calibrated mode is the default. 

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Automatic light and dark themes no longer exclusive to Pixel 2

The ability to change the appearance of the Android system has always been missing from stock Android, with the exception of the Overlay Manager Service, which is only configurable through the use of third-party tools like Substratum. This somewhat changed with the Pixel 2, where the quick settings dropdown and launcher would switch between light and dark themes based on the user's wallpaper.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Android System notifications have a new Oreo icon

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.

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