Pixel and Nexus Devices Experiencing Several Issues Since Android 8.1 Update

Anil Ganti
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It's that time again, when we talk about yet another bug with Google's devices. The latest bug was first noticed by a user on the Google's support site sometime last month, which surfaced after an update to Android 8.1. The Android 8.1 update was a relatively minor one apart from the enabling of the Pixel Visual Core and a security patch. However, the update also brought a new bug to several Pixel and Nexus devices, which impairs the devices' ability to detect the swipe motion to unlock the device.

Users reported that they've had to swipe several times to get to the PIN/pattern. Similarly, dismissing notifications from the lock screen also requires multiple attempts.

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Fruit Ninja-esque experience to accept phone calls

Every smartphone user will have fond memories of incessantly swiping away at their screen while playing Fruit Ninja. It appears that Google wants to strike a nostalgic chord with Pixel/Nexus users by making them relive the experience all over again.

But this time around, instead of slicing digital flora, you'll be attempting to answer/reject phone calls. Accepting/rejecting a phone call requires you to swipe the screen multiple times, before registering an input. I've experienced this first-hand on my Pixel 2 XL and it gets a tad annoying after a point.

Another minor inconvenience that came with the update is that all phone calls made over a cellular network default to loudspeaker mode (VoIP clients seem to work as intended), and you have to switch the loudspeaker on and off via the dialer GUI to get it back to the earpiece.

Curious case of missing Smart Lock settings

On the same thread, users reported a more sinister bug, one which made the entire contents of the Smart Lock feature in the security settings disappear. For some, toggling off and on of the Smart Lock feature seem to have fixed the problem. For others, a factory reset was required, and for an unfortunate few, the issue still persists.

Broken voice recordings on Pixel 2 XL

The Android update also earlier caused audio recordings being practically inaudible when sent over instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. The recipient is unable to hear the contents of the recording properly, despite their device volume being set to the maximum (both over loudspeaker and headphones).

The problem was initially attributed to the applications themselves, but the standard troubleshooting steps such as uninstalling/reinstalling said applications, clearing the cache and factory resetting the device yielded mixed results. What makes the bug even more peculiar that it affects only recordings sent over third-party applications and quality of audio on calls made over cellular networks and VoIP clients remains unaffected. This means we can rule out any fault with the actual microphone hardware and the issue is likely with the microphone gain being set incorrectly.

However, it appears that not all devices are affected by the voice recording bug. The Pixel 2 XL I'm using as my daily driver seems to be working as intended and people could hear audio clips I sent over WhatsApp and Telegram. At this moment, only Pixel 2 XL devices have been reported to be bugged, with the smaller Pixel 2, Pixel, Nexus devices remaining unaffected. Thankfully, Google seems to have acknowledged the problem and we hope that an OTA update is on its way to address it.

Do you own a Pixel or Nexus device that runs Android 8.1? If yes, let us know in the comments below if you have experienced any bugs on it.

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