Sony launched the Xperia XZ1 flagship with pre-installed Android 8.0 Oreo. The Xperia XZ Premium flagship arrived with Android 7.1 Nougat and received the Android 8.0 update along with the 3D Creator app. Xperia XZ1 also received the Android 8.0 Oreo update in many regions.
Google released the Android 8.1 update on December 5th with many exciting features like Neural Network API, Bluetooth Battery levels, SMS connect and so on. So the next big update for Xperia XZ Premium and XZ1 flagships is Android 8.1 Oreo.
Due to Project Treble of Android 8.0 Oreo, Xperia XZ1 will receive the upcoming updates quickly. Sony also confirms that Project Treble has enabled in Xperia XZ1. So it seems that Xperia XZ1 will receive Android 8.1 Oreo earlier than XZ Premium.
The Android 8.1 update may reach Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium flagships in Q2 or Q3 of 2018, according to tech analysts. However, there is some chance that Sony totally skip Android 8.1 and directly update to Android 9.0. So in coming days, more details about the rollout of Android 8.1 for Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium will be revealed.
The Android 8.0 Oreo update arrived with many new features and improvements like App background limits, Picture in Picture mode, Smart Text selection and so on. As the first maintenance release (MR1), Android 8.1 not only came up with many bug fixes and security fixes for Android Oreo, but also with interesting features like Neural Network API 1.0, Bluetooth battery levels, Refined Battery section, Wi-Fi speed labels, Improved Emoji and many more. The update activates the Visual Core in Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices, which speedup HDR pictures processing many times. The quality of the Pictures also improved very much and battery drain also reduced.
The Neural Network API which has arrived with Android 8.1 for Google Pixel, Pixel 2, Nexus series, is a major improvement towards machine learning and AI. The API provides a base layer for Neural network learning frameworks like Tensor Flow Lite, Caffe2 etc.
The API facilitates on-device Machine Learning which reduce latency in inferences, because network connection is not necessary for machine learning. The NNAPI useful to Neural networks which help in classifying images in Gallery according to user’s interest, predicting user’s behaviour and many more.
Bluetooth Battery levels are another useful feature of the Android 8.1 update. The battery levels of the connected Bluetooth device will be displayed besides the Bluetooth Icons in the Quick Settings panel. So the Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium users can know the battery levels of their Bluetooth devices through Quick Settings Toggles. Not only that in the Bluetooth devices section also, the battery level status of connected devices will be displayed.
Buttery Smooth Scrolling is one of the awesome features arrived with the Android 8.1 Oreo update. The scrolling seems incredible in the updated Pixel and Pixel XL devices. Most likely due to the implementation of additional buffer layer to reduce the display frame drop rate, the scrolling becomes really smooth like butter.
Previously, Google had increased the smoothness of scrolling in earlier Android versions through the Project Butter. Now with these optimizations, the scrolling becomes on-par with that on iPhones.
In the Android 8.1 update, Google made some visual changes in order to provide better user experience. The visual changes include automatic fading of navigation bar buttons and the Search bar in Settings.
When the navigation bar buttons not used for two seconds, they will fade in both light and dark themes. So that eys strain will be reduced and screen burn-in of the buttons won’t happen quickly. The full fledged Settings bar in the Settings Menu will make Settings search easy for users. Previously, only a Search button was present in the Settings menu. Now in Android 8.1, full light Search bar appears in the Settings app.
Automatic Dark and Light modes is another big feature of this update. The color of UI items will change according to the wallpaper set by the user. That means, when the user set dark color wallpaper, UI will change to dark mode and if the user Light color wallpaper, UI will change to Light mode which causes less eye strain and more comfortable.
In Android 8.1, Google has redesigned the Battery section of the Settings app. In the battery section a list of the apps with high battery drain will be displayed. Xperia XZ Premium and XZ1 users can stop the excessive drain of battery by reducing the requests for these apps. For example, Maps app requests Location access frequently and may be the cause of quick drain of battery, so if we restrict the Location requests for the Maps app the battery drain will be reduced, but the purpose of the app also be ruined.
For example, an app is draining excess battery through Location requests and the users can turnoff location services for the app through the refined battery section in Android 8.1 Oreo. So this is another big step towards the prevention of battery drain. In the Android 8.0 Oreo, the Search Giant introduced app background limits to stop the battery drain.
The Android 8.1 update brought some improvements to notifications. Apps can only make a notification alert sound once per second, in Android 8.1 and they are also able to be completely muted. This doesn’t affect the notification behaviour.
Previously with Android 8.0, Google brought Notification Dots and Channels to the most popular OS in the World. Now in the first maintenance release, the Search giant made improvements to made user experience much better. So user annoying notifications will be lost with the latest update.
This is one of the useful features coming with the Android 8.1 update. Recently on January 22nd, Google enabled the feature on Pixel and Pixel XL devices. Under this feature, open Wi-Fi Networks appear with the following labels Slow, OK, Fast, Very Fast. The Veryfast label means 20+ Mbps, Fast means 5-20 Mbps, OK means 1-5 Mbps and Slow means 0-1 Mbps. With this feature, users can determine which is the best open network and to stream HD videos and Calls over Wi-Fi.
Google made significant changes in this update to increase the free space in storage. The system automatically clears the Dalvik cache of Inactive apps, thereby reduces the size occupied by the app in the internal memory after the Android 8.1 update. So the user will be able to install more apps and store files like pictures, music etc. in the internal memory.
According to some reports, the Search is going enhance the reduction in app sizes further in the upcoming Android P.
Google redesigned the Power Menu in Android 8.1, so the new power menu gives fresh appeal to the users. The Power menu appears on the right side of the device instead of the previous centre menu. A new dark mode feature also added to the powermenu, so the menu appears in day time with light theme and in night time with Night mode. So eye strain will be reduced with the Android 8.1 update.
Autofill is a new feature arrived with the Android 8.0 Oreo update and very useful to users. In Android 8.1, Google has much refined the feature, so that password managers and autofill services use the Autofill framework easier. The user interface and the options regarding creditcard details are also improved in Android 8.1.
With the Autofill APIs, users can automatically fill forms and logins in most of the apps using the password managers like Lastpass, 1Password and Google Autofill. In Chrome, the feature is not usable till now, but Google solved the issue in the Android P preview. So more optimizations to Autofill will come in future.
We will update this post soon with latest news about Android 8.1 for Xperia XZ and XZ Premium.