In late August, Google finally released the most recent update to its proprietary operating system. Dubbed "Nougat," Android 7.0 retained the confectionery naming scheme of previous iterations, a cutesy name tag to an otherwise-significant bump in features and productivity.
More than a month later in Oct. 4, Google hinted at Android 7.1's new features during its Made by Google event, where it unveiled a Chromecast refresh, Google-branded flagship smartphones along with some other products that depended highly on Google's masterstroke: search functionality. The announcements were all very exciting, but the company was slim on revealing further details about Android 7.1 until now.
The company announced today that the Developer Preview for Android 7.1 will roll out late October for the Nexus 5X and 6P phones and Google Pixel C, with more phones to support the Developer Preview in December.
The "incremental update" will support Daydream VR, Google's second virtual reality headset, heaps fancier and sophisticated than the makeshift but functional Google Cardboard. The preview will also bring app shortcuts, similar to how iOS' 3D touch toggles quick access to an app's features without launching it and trying to navigate the feature to perform a task. On the cosmetics front, the preview will also bring rounded app icons to match the aesthetic of Pixel's custom Android UI and enhanced live wallpaper metadata for developers to tinker with.
Many developers have requested Google to bring image keyboard support for Android 7.0, and they're in luck, since Google will do as such. The preview will come with image keyboard support. Developers can expand the types of content users can enter using the keyboard, so custom stickers, animated GIFs and more will finally be more easily integrated.
A handy storage-saving tool also tags along with the preview, providing storage cleanup options to discard old and unused files to free up wasted storage on the device.
For calling apps, 7.1 will also offer an API that supports multi-endpoint calling and new telephony configuration options.
While all of these features will come to Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and Pixel C, these devices will miss out on the Pixel launcher, Google Assistant and other cosmetic changes present in Pixel and Pixel XL's custom Android UI.
The Developer Preview, of course, is intended for developers to test how their apps will run on Android 7.1, but Google's not adamant in filtering out gatecrashers since everyone can enroll in the beta program, though not without its caveats. But if you're itching to try out Android 7.1 for yourself, it's an available option.
No word yet on the official wide release of Android 7.1, considering Android 7.0 hasn't even properly rolled out to a lot of compatible devices, with the Nexus 5X and 6P even encountering snags. If you have the compatible devices, you're welcome to try out the Developer Preview once it rolls out later this month.