The Xperia XZ1 is a flagship from Sony arrived with Android 8.0 Oreo straight from the box in September 2017. The Xperia XZ is the 2016 flagship arrived with Android 7.1 Nougat and Sony started the Oreo rollout for XZ in late-November 2017.
After Android 8.0 Oreo, the major android update arrived from Google is Android 8.1. It sports some of the exciting features like Neural Networks API, Bluetooth Battery levels, new Battery section, revamped storage management and many more. In October and November, Google released two Android 8.1 developer previews and finally on December 6th, the consumer version arrived. Already Google Pixel and Nexus devices got the update.
Update on 20/9/2018 :
It seems that Sony decided to skip the Android 8.1 update for its flagships and rollout Android 9 Pie directly for Xperia XZ1. Sony has rolledout a Pie beta build for Xperia XZ2 devices recently and preparing for fullscale rollout. The Xperia XZ1 flagship has been confirmed officially to receive the Android Pie. More details about the Pie rollout for XZ1 can be found here. However, XZ devices might not receive the Pie update officially but Pie based LineageOS and other customroms are under development.
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Xperia XZ and XZ1 Android 8.1 Release Dates
Obviously, Xperia XZ1 stands in front of XZ in the update list, as the XZ1 is the latest flagship. Due to the Project Treble of Android Oreo enabled on XZ1, the android updates should be delivered very quickly.
So Xperia XZ1 might start receiving the Android 8.1 Oreo update in late-May 2018 and the rollout may continue throughout Q2 of 2018. There is still no confirmation whether Project Treble enabled in Xperia XZ with the Oreo update or not. So Xperia XZ might receive the Android 8.1 update in Q3 of 2018, depending on the Project Treble and various factors.
The release dates are always subject to change due to unforeseen technical issues. The official release dates of Android 8.1 will be revealed in coming days.
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Android 8.1 Oreo Exclusive Features
The Android 8.1 update activates the Visual core AI chip in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices. The Visual core chip processes pictures with lightening-fast speeds, so the HDR images will be processed very quickly. The image quality is also improved very much with the AI processing of Visual core.
Neural network API
The Neural Network API is one of the awesome features arrived with Android 8.1. With the API, machine learning will be enhanced and developers can do various wonders using the API. According to Google, neural network API provides a base layer of functionality for higher-level machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow Lite , Caffe2 which build and also train neural networks. The NNAPI (Neural Network API) supports inferencing by applying data from Android devices to earlier trained, developer-defined models. So the feature helps in activities like classifying images and predicting the user behaviour.
The Neural Network API depends on the hardware specific to AI like Pixel 2 core to process much faster than general-use CPU alone. Although, the AI chip is absent in Xperia XZ and XZ1 devices, but they might provide faster user experience with the Neural Network API of Android 8.1
In Android 8.1, Battery section in the Settings apps has revamped. A new list of apps which are draining battery excessively, appears in the Battery section with a warning mark. Not only that, but the reasons for excess draining are also being shown in the section. So user can do some optimizations specific for the app to prevent Battery drain.
In Android 8.1, Google also optimized the Notification sounds and limited to one per a second. So there won’t be more than one notification sound per a second and all sounds can also be muted. Because of this optimization, some annoying apps which send notifications repeatedly are controlled and user experience has improved.
In Android 8.1, the Search giant fixed the burger and beer emoji which were not designed properly in Android 8.0. So users can send the fixed Cheeseburger emoji in messages and while chatting.
Android 8.1 Visual Changes
The Search giant pushed out many visual enhancements with the Android 8.1 update for Pixel and Pixel 2 devices. However, all of them won’t appear in Xperia XZ devices due to customization of Sony. Now we look into some major visual changes of the Android 8.1 Oreo update.
The navigation bar buttons will fade if they are not used for two seconds in Android 8.1, so the screen burn issue of buttons will be prevented in the devices sporting OLED screens. The legendary search bar repositioned to the bottom of the screen in Android 8.1. In the Settings menu, we see a full fledged white themed search bar instead of Search icon.
Bluetooth Battery Levels
In Android 8.1 Oreo, the Search Giant brought the feature of Bluetooth Battery levels in the Quick Settings toggles and Notifications. So Xperia XZ and XZ1 users can easily check their Bluetooth devices battery level by just swiping down on the Home screen. Full details like percentage can be seen in the Bluetooth section in the Settings menu. Pixel 2 devices arrived with this feature inbuilt and Nexus 5X, 6P and Pixel 1 devices got the feature through the Android 8.1 update.
First, Apple brought this feature with iOS9 and later refined much in iOS 10 and 11 versions. In upcoming Android P, Google may further refine the feature.
Improved Ambient Display
In Android 8.1, the Search giant refined the Ambient Display feature to improve user experience. The feature shows the upcoming Alarm and scheduled time besides the date between the Time and the row of notification icons. Actually the improved Ambient display feature is present inbuilt in Pixel 2 series flagships but the Android 8.1 update brings the improvements to Original Pixel devices too. The Xperia XZ1 and XZ also may get the improved Ambient display feature with the Android 8.1 Oreo update.
Refined Power Menu
In the previous update, Google added the Restart option to the power menu and now with Android 8.1, another refinement arrived. The Power Menu in the Android 8.1 Oreo appears in Night mode in Night time, Light mode in Day time to reduce strain on eyes. So the power users will feel comfortable after the Android 8.1 update due to the refined power menu. The user interface of the menu also looks elegant and bright. More optimizations to the power menu may come in the upcoming Android 9.0 P update.
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Buttery smooth scrolling
The system-wide scrolling experience has been refined in the first Maintenance update for Oreo. In this, Google implemented an extra buffer layer to reduce the frame drop rate massively and provide buttery smooth scrolling experience to users.
Because of implementation of buttery smooth scrolling in Android 8.1, some Nexus 5X and Pixel users say that the responsiveness has decreased a little bit, but that is acceptable to most users. Till now, only Apple iPhones have been praised for their smooth scrolling. Android 8.1 brought this new feature to the Android Ecosystem and already Pixel and Nexus devices got it. It is still unclear whether Xperia XZ1 and XZ flagships will get the buttery smooth scrolling or not.
More Free Space
With ever increasing app sizes and new feature-rich apps, internal storage inside phones is filling up fast. The Android 8.1 Oreo update brought a fix to this problem. After updating to Android 8.1, the system identifies the inactive apps and clears the dalvik cache of them to increase the free space. The process takes place automatically without any user intervention.
When the user again opens any inactive app, fresh dalvik cache will be created and it may not reduce the app’s responsiveness. The new feature not only reduce the app sizes but also improves performance a little bit. The search giant may further improve this feature in Android 9.0 P update.
Wi-Fi Speed Labels
The Wi-Fi Speed Labels feature originally arrived with Android 8.1 as not enabled to Pixel and Pixel XL phones but later enabled by an update in January. In this feature, Google adds special labels to Open Wi-Fi networks, so that users can determine which is the fastest network available to them and what services it can support.
Open Wi-Fi networks appear with labels as Slow, OK and Fast according to their speed in Android 8.1 Oreo. Only the Fast labelled networks support seemless 4K video streaming, Voice over Wi-Fi etc services. Google may further refine this feature in the Android 9.0 update.
Improvements to Autofill
The Autofill feature made its debut with Android 8.0 Oreo and now in Android 8.1 it has much refined. The Autofill feature is useful to automatically fill online forms like credit card details, login forms etc. The famous password managers like Lastpass and 1Password already supporting it.
In Android 8.1, the Autofill APIs have been improved to help the user while filling creditcard details online. The manager automatically display the card logo and expiration date to easily recognize and fill the form. Many under the hood improvements to Autofill feature also have been done in Android 8.1.
We will update this post soon with latest news about Android 8.1 for Xperia XZ and XZ1.
Update on 8/12/2017 :
Google released the Android 8.1 consumer version on December 5th and later began the rollout for Nexus 5X and 6P devices along with the Pixel series. Google has fixed tens of recently found security vulnerabilities, in the the latest android update and also included the fixes for 48 additional bugs. In the final preview of Android 8.1 which was released on November 26th, the Search giant fixed the cheeseburger and Beer emojis. So Android 8.1 final build comes with many fixes and improvements over Oreo.
Sony didn’t make any comment on when the update will hit Xperia XZ1 and XZ devices. More details about the Android 8.1 update for Sony flagships will be revealed soon.
Update on 2/5/2018 :
A few weeks ago, some folks over XDA developers spotted the 120Hz display mode in the Sony’s AOSP Android 8.1 Oreo build. The mode seems to be present as hidden in the Xperia XZ and XZ1 flagships too. Most recently, the Razer phone arrived with 120Hz mode which gives amazing experience to users. However, the XDA folks also discovered that there is no way to switch between display modes in XZ1, XZ, XZ Premium devices.
Now Sony come up with an explanation, why the mode has been disabled in these flagships. In an E-mail to Android Authority blog, Sony written that, in order to balance between Power consumption and consumer benefit in terms of higher display frame rate, the company opted towards power efficiency and disabled the mode. Earlier, some users hoped that the remarkable 120Hz mode might come with the Android 8.1 update. Any how, Sony now indicated that there will be no 120Hz display mode is coming to Xperia XZ and XZ1 devices with the update.