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Android 8.1 final preview enables the Pixel 2's custom camera chip

Take AI-powered photos using the camera app of your choice.

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In this article: cameras, gear, google, mobile
Chris Velazco/Engadget
Chris Velazco/Engadget

The first Android 8.1 preview release opened the doors to app developers wanting to support the Pixel 2's untapped Pixel Visual Core chip, and now the phones themselves are ready for action. Google has released the final 8.1 developer preview, which switches on the Visual Core for Pixel 2 and 2 XL users. You can now take AI-fueled HDR+ photos using apps that support the standard Android camera framework, not just Google's own app.

The 8.1 release also includes acceleration for machine learning through TensorFlow Lite, performance improvements for Android Go phones and a host of minor tweaks. Logically, this last preview also stamps out a host of bugs from before.

If you want to experiment, the new release will roll out to Android Beta Program members over the next few days. And if you'd rather play it safe? Google is still on track to push the finished release to Pixel and Nexus owners starting in December. Yes, you'll have had to wait up to two months to make full use of the Pixel 2's hardware, but it'll be hard to complain too much when this will widen access to Google's unique image processing techniques.

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