In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, the stable version of Android 8.1 Oreo is set to start rolling out to users by the end of the day, with Google’s late Monday announcement of Android Oreo (Go Edition) mentioning that the initiative is “launching as a part of the Android 8.1 release tomorrow.” The development marks a record-short software testing period for Google who just released the second developer preview of its operating system on Friday and wasn’t expected to bring it to the stable channel until late December. While the last experimental build of the OS already shipped with near-final system images and finalized app behaviors that allowed developers to conclude their app optimization efforts, the Alphabet-owned company usually debuts official OS releases a month after their ultimate previews. That’s what happened with Android 8.0 Oreo which launched on August 21st after its DP4 was introduced on July 24th, and it’s also what happened with Android 7.0 Nougat whose fifth experimental build was released over a month before the OS went official in late August of 2016.
The new OS iteration is largely focused on budget devices, i.e. the Go Edition of the firmware, albeit it also ships with a variety of improvements and features that owners of the Pixel-series smartphones, Pixel C tablet, and eligible Nexus offerings will be able to utilize. In the premium end of the spectrum, the jump to Android 8.1 Oreo allows users of the new Pixel devices to enable the Pixel Visual Core, Google’s first custom chip designed for efficient image processing. While the default Camera app pre-installed on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL already boasts native HDR+ support and doesn’t take advantage of the chip, third-party services utilizing the Android Camera API will be able to benefit from the silicon and process images in a more efficient manner.
Android 8.1 Oreo also boasts various bug fixes for Google’s first-party products, in addition to featuring autofill and general performance enhancements. Finally, the new OS revision also comes with a redesigned hamburger emoji that sparked an unexpected amount of controversy earlier this year as Google found out many users have strong opinions on the order of ingredients in a sandwich. The new emoji can be seen below, together with Google’s confirmation that the latest stable build of Android is “rolling out now.” Given the current state of affairs, Android 8.1 Oreo factory images are likely to go up in the coming hours.
— Android (@Android) December 5, 2017