The Google Pixel and Pixel 2 Android 8.1 Oreo update finally coming later this year. You can try it right now ahead of the December release date. Here we’ll go over everything you need to know about the update. Including some reasons to, and not to download it today, and what to expect.
Android 8.1 is the first major update to Oreo since it arrived in August so it’s a big deal. You don’t need to be an Android developer to try Google’s latest software release. You just need a compatible device like the Pixel, Pixel XL, or Pixel 2 and some patience.
This is a tempting update especially for those experiencing problems with the Pixel on Android 8.0 Oreo. Here we’ll talk about all of the new features, performance, and how to downgrade back to Android 8.0 if the beta gives you trouble.
You have two ways to install Android 8.1 Oreo on the Pixel or Pixel 2, at least right now. Our guide linked to above goes over both and will help you get started. Before you do though, there are some important things to know as you move forward.
One thing to consider is this is an early beta release of Google’s latest software. That means owners may experience problems, bugs, errors, or other issues on their Pixel or Pixel 2. If the Pixel is your only phone, you might be stuck dealing with these problems until the official software gets released in December.
Our Pixel Android 8.1 Oreo guide below addresses these potential problems. We also take a look at early 8.1 developer preview performance, bug fixes, and how to downgrade back to 8.0 if you do run into issues.
Here’s a list of everything that’s new in Android 8.0 Oreo, including some of the new changes in the Android 8.1 Oreo developer preview. As more information becomes available and the official update arrives in a few weeks we’ll update this roundup. Detailing any new information, share our thoughts on its performance, and discuss potential problems.
Pixel & Pixel 2 Android 8.1 Performance & Impressions
Android 8.1 Oreo is available as a limited beta for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and the Pixel C tablet.
Before we get into an early look at its performance we want to talk about the update process itself.
You have two ways to get Android 8.1 Oreo right now. The easiest method is the Android Beta Program. This sends you a quick update file, doesn’t erase any data from your device, and gets you on the new software. It might take longer to arrive, but it’s the safest route.
If you’re planning to manually install it to the Pixel or Pixel 2, it’s a sizeable update and takes a bit longer. Not to mention some ADB knowledge to flash the factory image update files. The installation took just 4-5 minutes to download and manually flash for me, but others might want to take it slow and do everything right. Manually installing Android 8.1 erases everything from your device. You’ll have to start all over and restore any data.
We’ve been using Android 8.1 Oreo on the Pixel XL for the last few hours, and so far it’s exactly what we expected. Key areas of battery life, performance, WiFi, and overall usage is just fine. We can’t test battery life in two hours, but so far we’re seeing no signs of problems.
However, battery life is often an issue on beta software. If you do experience problems, follow this guide for some potential help and fixes.
A big area of concern for owners is Bluetooth. Again, this varies based on device, accessory, or car manufacturer. I’ve connected the Pixel XL to my Bose QC35 headphones, a Braven Bluetooth speaker, and my Pioneer stereo in my Toyota Tacoma all without issue. I didn’t experience connectivity issues or stutters to audio. We heard Google finally fixed Bluetooth with 8.1 Oreo, and we’ll report back if we see anything else.
If you’re worried about anything, wait a few days to see what early reports have to say.