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series_android_81_feature_spotlights

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: DP2 restores the sRGB toggle in Developer options

Google can be rather indecisive at times, which often leads to a cycle of adding and removing things from different versions of Android – usually after a user backlash of some sort. With the first developer preview of Android 8.1, Google removed the 'Picture color mode' sRGB toggle from original Pixels and Nexus phones. You'll be pleased to learn that order has now been restored.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: DP2 corrects hamburger emoji, puts cheese above the patty

Despite having served burgers with cheese below the patty at the Googleplex a few weeks ago, the company has just now fixed the hamburger emoji in Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2. A few other emojis have received mild overhauls as well.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Android will highlight battery draining apps and what they're doing

Battery life is always the weak link in our smartphone-centric world, and you often find yourself baffled by the reasons why your battery drains way too fast one day and then seems to last forever the second day. Android has been trying to remedy that for many and many versions, and the latest Android 8.1 Developer Preview adds one more weapon to your arsenal in the fight against battery drainage. It won't help you win the war, but it will more easily answer the question of which app has been misbehaving and how.

On Android 8.1, if you check the Battery settings, you may see one app highlighted at the top with a red warning battery icon.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Supported devices could offload tethering to the hardware

One of the new toggles you'll see in Android 8.1's developer preview is hidden in Developer options, under the Networking category and is called: Tethering hardware acceleration. The description, "Use tethering hardware acceleration if available," doesn't do a lot to clarify the ambiguity of the new option, and the speculation from AP alumni Ron Amadeo and a few users has been that it would use a more efficient method for tethering that relies on hardware. We've been looking into it to try to understand what it does and there are hints here and there that favor that explanation.

First, there's new code in Android that's related to this new "tetheroffload.control" and I also found a few APIs in the Android HIDL related to it with explanations of the different control types.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Covering the proximity sensor no longer turns off Ambient Display

The latest Android developer preview is filled with lots of incremental changes, many of which are thoughtful and useful. It wouldn’t be possible for Google to get everything right in a beta release, though, and this alteration seems to be more of a backward step.

Previously in Oreo, if you’d set Ambient Display to wake with a notification or with a double tap, it would shut off if the proximity sensor was covered. This was useful for conserving battery as it would turn the screen off as soon as you put it in a pocket or a bag. It was also good if you’d already seen whatever it was notifying you about, as you could simply wave your hand over the sensor to sleep the screen.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Power off and restart screens get a new coat of paint, and restart screen now says 'Restarting...'

Restart functionality has been in many Android skins for years, but Google only officially introduced it to stock Android last year with Android 7.1. However, the pop-up that appeared when you hit the restart button still showed the default text for a shut-down instead of 'Restarting...', which is much more logical. Android 8.1 Oreo fixes this issue, and brings a splash of color to both the shut-down and restart screens to go with the new power menu design.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: You can now restore backed up data after initial setup process

Backing up and restoring data is something that Android hasn't always handled so well, but it's got a lot better in recent versions. Since Marshmallow, automatic app data backups have made switching between phones a whole lot easier, bringing all your apps and settings with you. This means that you can set up a new device and have it look identical to your old one, without having to go through the agony setting everything up again.

What hasn't been possible, though, is restoring data to a device after the initial setup is complete. That appears to have changed with the Android 8.1 Oreo developer preview, and also in 8.0 on the new Pixels, which share a bunch of features with the 8.1 build you'll get on OG Pixels and Nexuses.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Ambient Display now has the date and an upcoming alarm

Google made some big changes to Ambient Display in 8.0, not all of which made people happy. It was a very minimal interface, rather than being a monochrome version of the lock screen. In Android 8.1, Google is adding a few new elements to Ambient Display, but it's still keeping the minimal vibe.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Emergency alerts get a history list and reorganized settings

It's long been possible to receive important emergency alerts on your Android device, and with the introduction of the 8.1 developer preview the settings have been given a bit of a makeover. This one can definitely be filed with the other minor but useful dev preview changes. As well as a reorganization of the alerts section in the settings, there's also a history list so you can see previous alerts, including those you've accidentally dismissed.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Mobile data quick setting toggle asks if you really want to turn if off

Over the course of the last few Android versions, Google has seemingly struggled to decide on exactly how some of the quick settings options should work. Some are simple toggles, some bring up extra details in the quick settings pane, and some take you through to the settings app. Several of them also have different behavior depending on whether you short or long-press them.

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