Skip to main content

Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 released, activates 'early version' of Pixel Visual Core

Just over a month after the first Android 8.1 Developer Preview release, we now have Developer Preview 2. Once again it's available for all of the latest devices from Google: Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player and Pixel C.

The biggest addition to Developer Preview 2 (aka Beta 2) is enabling preliminary support for the Pixel Visual Core on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. That's the dedicated photo co-processor that's been sitting in the phones unused since launch with a promise of coming to life in a later update. Google is calling this an "early version" of the Pixel Visual Core, so we won't see its full potential, but expectations are that this new processor will bring even faster photo performance and raise the bar for overall photo quality.

This will likely be the final Dev Preview release before 8.1 releases to everyone in December.

We're also expecting this latest Dev Preview to include the rest of the display tuning changes included in the last stable software release for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, as well as the November security patches.

Developer Preview 2 will be rolling out over the air to anyone enrolled in the Android Beta Program, whether you were previously enrolled or just sign up right now. If you're extremely impatient, you can also flash the update manually using downloads from Google and our handy step-by-step guide.

As originally noted by Google at the start of the 8.1 Developer Preview, this is likely to be the final DP release before 8.1 hits the stable channel by the end of December.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

50 Comments
  • Does anyone want to wildly speculate what sorts of image processing and machine learning features will be coming to the Pixel 2 in the future with the activation of this core?
  • Not really, just pure Google amazing witchcraft.
  • I notice there is HDR+ Extended/Enhanced on the Pixel 2, accessible in the camera app through settings/advanced/HDR+ control. Currently this gives enhanced HDR but is slow. I assume this feature will be more easily accessible and will be much faster.
  • "Show manual control for HDR+. When this control is not shown, HDR+ is on." Sounds like this Advanced option is only for disabling the feature which is on by default. I agree with the assumption that this feature would be faster using the Pixel Visual Core.
  • No Android phone camera can match the imaging prowess of the Lumia 950's - none. I have a V30 now; I put the pixel camera on it, still no go.
  • Was the 950 better than the 930? I had the Lumia 930 and never got decent photos with it.
  • Much, much better. I have the 1520 which shares the same camera as the 930.
  • Yep. 1520 camera was beyond any of these cameras and was from a decade ago.
  • 1520...The Beast. Still miss it.
  • The 1520 aka the hulk (I had a green one) took one of the best HDR images...and this was 2 years ago. The only other phone that came close was the S7E and now the S8 series.
  • I also have a 1520, and while it was a beast of a camera for it's time, it does not compare to my OG Pixel XL. I compared them when I first got it, and I could zoom in a bit farther, but overall image quality is definitely better on the pixel's.
  • Not much, afaik it's just opening up the goodies for 3rd party developers so they can get those awesome shots as well (facebook, instagram, twitter etc)
  • How's about that KRACK patch? Did that make it to this DP2?
  • It's not in the November Security update, so I'm going with "probably not"....
  • The KRACK fix was supposedly in the security patch dated 11/6, the one that no one got. It should have been available, unless it wasn't really in the 11/6 patch either.
  • December security patch
  • Hope this core makes pictures better, I prefer to use Pixel 1 because image details are less blurry
  • Sooo, tempted to run the beta on my Pixel 2 XL. I do have it on my Nexus 6P, but of course it doesn't have the Pixel Visual Core.
  • Go for it! I run the preview on my 2 XL (which is my daily driver) with no known issues. IMO, it's very stable.
  • Or wait just a month for the stable release
  • Super stable
  • I can only imagine how good this will be on the Pixel 2/XL. Even on a year old phone like my V20 the Google Camera API has done wonders for my night time photography and it's not even optimized for it. I'm still enjoying my V20 but Google's software processing has left me with nothing but confidence in allowing them to do all the work so I think I'll be getting the Pixel 3 next fall.
  • Will it fix this? https://www.androidcentral.com/pixel-2-portrait-mode-derp
  • Will it fix you? Damn do you have a job?
  • Hahaha too real
  • 😂
  • Makes me wonder if he is one of those people who hit certain forums with a ' paid ' agenda. I've been told by companies there are people who are for hire to hit specific forums to bash their product (s) to steer potential buyers towards other product lines ...
  • Do you have a job? You're on here constantly, sucking up to all things Google and Pixel, so maybe you're the paid shill. I get paid -- by my employer, and no one else. And my employer has nothing to do with smart phones.
  • And you're on here constantly knocking the Pixel at every opportunity.
  • And you're also on here constantly promoting Google and Pixel. So, are you both paid shills? What's good for the goose.
  • I wonder if it will install over the November patch
    Preview 1 wont
  • Mine hasn't. Just tried.
  • It came through this morning and installed over November update.
  • Just manually flashed Preview 2, trouble free unlike Preview 1. Will update once the phone is finished setting up.
  • Not noticing any performance increase with the Camera.
  • Umm..does anybody notice every time Google speaks about 8.1 with the visual core, they say it will be unlocked for third party apps to use.
    The Google camera app is already using it. There will be no improvement. It's already the top 1-3 camera phone. It will let Snapchat and Instagram for instance use hdr+. That's all. Am I wrong?
  • No it hasn't been active even on the pixel 2 here is the story explaining it The Pixel 2 camera's secret weapon: A Google-designed SoC, the 'Pixel Visual Core' https://www.androidcentral.com/pixel-visual-core
  • The following is directly from the article you linked... "Even though it wasn't ready at launch and took extra time to enable, right now the only part of the camera experience using the Pixel Visual Core is the camera's HDR+ feature. It's already very good; this is what comes next.
    With the Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2, the Pixel Visual Core will be opened up as a developer option. The goal is to give all third-party apps access through the Android Camera API. This will give every developer a way to use Google's HDR+ and the Pixel Visual Core, and we expect to see some really big things." It says the only part that uses the visual core right now is the cameras hdr+ feature like I said. I think I'm right lol
  • This is directly from the article you linked. "Even though it wasn't ready at launch and took extra time to enable, right now the only part of the camera experience using the Pixel Visual Core is the camera's HDR+ feature. It's already very good; this is what comes next.
    With the Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2, the Pixel Visual Core will be opened up as a developer option. The goal is to give all third-party apps access through the Android Camera API. This will give every developer a way to use Google's HDR+ and the Pixel Visual Core, and we expect to see some really big things." It says the only part using the visual core RIGHT NOW is hdr+ and it will be open to developers with the update 8.1.
    Also this article is from October 17th which means it was from release of the phone with no update. I'm pretty confident I'm right, cause in every article they keep mentioning about "open to developers" not improved pics in general. Idk I could be wrong ;)
  • That's what I got when I first read the announcement about the visual core. Then everyone starting writing that it was dormant
  • No the Google camera is not "already using it". It won't be used on default Google camera: >We do ZSL and fast buffering to get fast HDR capture. So we don’t take advantage of the Pixel Visual Core, we don’t need to take advantage of it. So you won’t see changes in the pictures captured from the default camera app in the coming weeks. **- Brian Rakowski VP of Product Management at Google**. http://www.fonearena.com/blog/235255/in-questions-pixel-camera-qa-with-b...
  • So, then what's the point of the Pixel Visual Core?
  • won't be used on default Google camera: >We do ZSL and fast buffering to get fast HDR capture. So we don’t take advantage of the Pixel Visual Core, we don’t need to take advantage of it. So you won’t see changes in the pictures captured from the default camera app in the coming weeks.- Brian Rakowski VP of Product Management at Google. http://www.fonearena.com/blog/235255/in-questions-pixel-camera-qa-with-b...
  • Booo :(. I thought we were getting some kind of magic with the Visual Core enabled.
  • Is the Google Assistant bluetooth functionality still broken in this build as well?
  • One thing at a time, man. The kid can only do so much programming and debugging after he finishes his homework.
  • Where are the Stranger Things AR options in the camera?
  • woke up this morning to see Pixel 2 showing an ota notification for 8.1 DP2 (OPP6.171019.012), about 176MB. installed fine. includes Nov 5, 2017 security patch and Color menu under Display. I wonder if there's a fix in there for whining noise during calls. I don't think Assistant via bluetooth is working.
  • Anyone confirm dp2 just broke android pay... It did not work for me this morning... Use to work on dp1!
  • My dp2 on Pixel 2 works fine with Android Pay. I've used it 3 times with no issues.