Andy Rubin founded Android as an independent company and then ran the Android division at Google for several years after its acquisition. He left a few years back to work on other projects. His most recent project is Essential, which released its first phone last fall. The Essential Phone is like many phones from that period — it shipped with Android 7.0 instead of the brand new 8.0 Oreo. Well, Essential has been working on an 8.0 update, but now it says it’s skipping 8.0 and will go right for 8.1.
The Essential Phone garnered attention last year for its bold super-narrow bezel design with the “notch” in the display. This phone was announced some months before the iPhone X, making it the first to take a chunk out of the screen to house sensors. The upshot is the phone’s LCD panel goes all the way up to the edge on three sides. There’s a bit of a chin at the bottom of the phone.
Despite the interesting hardware, Essential had to make excuses for the software situation. It said the device would get an update to Oreo by early 2018, but it sounds like there’s going to be a delay there. Essential started its Oreo beta program two months ago, allowing owners of the phone to manually install the update and give it a shot. There have been three releases of the Oreo beta so far, but Essential says it’s identified several stability issues that have been difficult to solve.
The new course of action for Essential is to skip Android 8.0 entirely. It says the bugs it’s encountering in 8.0 are not present in Android 8.1 Oreo. Therefore, it’s going to direct all its efforts to move the Essential Phone directly from Nougat to Android 8.1. That will likely push the release back by several more weeks, but there will be a beta program for 8.1 soon.
An update on the public release of Oreo: pic.twitter.com/fPJRtX7kvY
— Essential (@essential) January 30, 2018
Those interested in testing Android 8.1 will have the chance to do so soon. Just like the Android 8.0 beta, you’ll need to have the Android SDK set up on your computer to sideload the OTA file. The beta will still have bugs to iron out, so you should wait if possible.
Essential has said it will be one of the few OEMs to deliver Project Treble in an update, which might be part of the reason it’s taking so long. Devices that ship with Oreo must include Treble, but Essential is going above and beyond. Project Treble is a modular system framework that will make it easier and faster to update the phone next time.