Bytes: Details found in the latest Google app beta suggest a new version of Android is on the way.The new version number – 8.1 – was spotted by the folks at 9to5Google in version 7.11 of the Google beta app, which is just rolling out to enrollees.
The relevant string shows that Android 8.1 will be accompanied by a bump in the SDK version, which is a sign that Android 8.1 includes enough changes to the API set to warrant a new SDK number.
Android 8.0, which launched on August 21, was based on version 26 of the SDK.
The Android SDK (software development kit) is the collection of APIs (application programming interfaces) that lets developers create apps that plug into the OS’ features. It looks like at least some Google devs are already working with the unreleased SDK version 27.
The teardown also shows a few other changes, including a new icon for the Google Lens visual search feature that’s going to launch with the Pixel 2 and small updates to the screenshot functionality and Bluetooth audio for automotive. There’s also a new hint at the “Bisto” smart headphones that Google is rumored to be working on, in the form of a notification message for the headphones’ battery level.
Getting back to Android 8.1 (which, very likely, will still be called Oreo), Google seems to follow the same pattern from last year. After the launch of Android 7.0 in August, Google released Android 7.1 with the Pixel and Pixel XL on October 4. The new version brought many small changes throughout the OS, like app shortcuts in the launcher, a tabbed view in settings menu, the option to restart the device when pressing the power button, and an extra tile in the quick settings.
We expect Google to do the same this year, with Android 8.1 launching on the Pixel 2 sometime in October. In a separate report, 9to5Google confirmed the new Pixels would run Android 8.1, citing sources familiar with the device.
So yeah, Android 8.1 is hardly a surprise, but we’ll take a shred of evidence over pure guesswork any time. What would you like to see in Android 8.1?