Here's everything new in Android 7.1

Android phones will eventually get these new features (if they get updated) but some are Pixel exclusives.

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Jason Cross

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Our first look at Android 7.1 came courtesy of the Pixel phone, but now we’re learning more about what sets it apart from the first iteration of Nougat.

Android Police got some info direct from Google, and combined with that and our time at yesterday’s “Made by Google” event we have an unofficial changelog of what’s headed to the Google Pixel and other Android phones (eventually) in terms of specific software features. Here’s a breakdown:

What's in Android 7.1 

Night Light: Cuts down on blue light emitted by your display late at night, which is easier on your eyes and won’t mess your your melatonin production, keeping you up late.

Touch/display performance improvements: This is one of the reasons an iPhone “feels” faster than the typical Android phones. Google wants to fix this through some dark magic that accelerates how responsive the touchscreen is to your finger.

Seamless A/B system updates: This should eliminate the need to hit the update button and wait for an install. Android updates will come in the background and automatically install on your phone when it’s not in use. 

Daydream VR: Phone that support the Daydream Ready spec requirements will work with the new VR headsets (the first of which is Google's Daydream View).

Fingerprint swipe: You’ll be able to check your notifications with a quick downward swipe on the fingerprint sensor. 

Developer features: The following are targeted at developers, giving them access to many of the feature and design changes that we saw in the Pixel update to Android. 

  • APIs for app shortcuts (these are already present in Action Launcher 3) and shortcut manager
  • Circular app icons support
  • Keyboard image insertion
  • Fingerprint sensor gesture support
  • Manual storage manager Intent for apps
  • Improved VR thread scheduling
  • Enhanced wallpaper metadata
  • Multi-endpoint call support
  • Support for various MNO requirements
    • PCDMA voice privacy property
    • Source type support for Visual Voicemail
    • Carrier configuration options for managing video telephony
  • A storage manager, which allows developers to identify apps and files that are using device storage.

Not in Android 7.1, Pixel Exclusive

Pixel Launcher: This will remain exclusive to the Pixel, unlike the Google Now Launcher. You swipe up to get to the app drawer, which also offers a search box for finding apps. 

Google Assistant: On the Pixel, this is launched with a long press of the home button. You’ll have to try it out inside of Allo if you want to check it out now.

Google Photos: Pixel owners get unlimited, original quality backup of all photos and videos. 

Smart Storage: When your phone is running low, it will automatically remove the original version of saved photos and videos.

Support: The Pixel will will come with 24/7 support including a screen share feature accessible through the support tab in the settings.

Quick switch adapter: A wired setup to transfer contacts, photos, and messages (even from iMessage!) from your current phone to a Pixel.

Aesthetic changes: A new calendar and date icon, pull-out “pill” to launch a Google search, and new wallpapers. Maybe some new lock screen animation, too.

Camera features: The following is a list of software enhancements to the Pixel camera:

  • Electronic Image Stabilization (“video stabilization”) 2.0 
  • White Balance Presets
  • Exposure Compensation
  • AE/AF Locking
  • Viewfinder grid modes
  • Hardware accelerated (on Qualcomm Hexagon coprocessor) HDR+ image processing
  • Smartburst
  • Sensor Hub processor with tightly integrated sensors (accel, gyro, mag) + connectivity (Wi-Fi, Cell, GPS)
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