Google today made the first developer preview of Android 8.1 Oreo available to app writers and beta testers. This update to Android is anything but minor, as it includes a significant number of under-the-hood changes. First up is the Neural Networks API, which lets apps take advantage of hardware acceleration for on-device machine learning operations. Android 8.1 makes changes to notifications. For example, apps can now only make a notification alert sound once per second. Android 8.1 helps developers target low-RAM devices through two new hardware features that let them split their APK into versions for normal and memory-constrained handsets. The beta makes improvements to Oreo’s autofill behaviors. For example, developers can create custom descriptions so the Android system shows only partial text strings to protect data such as credit card numbers. Google made it simple to take advantage of the Safe Browsing API, which lets apps detect when an instance of WebView attempts to navigate to a known bad URL. Developers can then customize how their apps respond to known threats. A new shared memory API lets developers create, map, and manage anonymous shared memory that can be used by multiple processes or apps. The WallpaperColors API adds support for managing wallpaper colors. Last, new behaviors can be assigned to the fingerprint reader on Android handsets, including the opportunity to permanently lockout users who fail too many times to unlock their device with a fingerprint. The Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview is available to registered developers and Android beta testers. Google has made system images available for direct installation on compatible handsets, though an over-the-air update will also reach registered Google users in the near future.
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