Although many may be wondering what the future holds and how rocky it may be for Essential after Andy Rubin announced a leave of absence from the company, several members of the development team are putting on a brave face indicating development is continuing as planned. This includes lots of new updates, including camera app and operating system updates of note along with work on the second generation Essential Phone.
Several of Essential’s development team spent time yesterday on a Reddit AMA session answering questions about the company and their devices. The team noted that they expect to release Android Oreo beta version 2 for the Essential phone some time next week. Along with the Oreo goodies, Essential says the latest update includes improvements to Bluetooth performance, to battery life and usage, and improvements to the interface to reduce touch latency and choppiness that users are experiencing. Signs are also good that an Android 8.1 Oreo update will follow soon after the initial Oreo release as Essential has already started working on it. They indicate that update may not go through the usual beta release cycle and will instead just get released as a “routine” update.
The other big update of note from Essential is to the camera app which is available through the Google Play Store as a standalone app. Essential is joining other manufacturers in adding a portrait mode to the camera software that ratchets up the bokeh effect on face shots. Essential says improvements also include better JPEG compression and the usual assortment of bug fixes and performance enhancements. All of these updates continue an aggressive schedule that Essential has implemented since they finally released their smartphone.
For anyone who's counting, we've released 5 OTAs, 6 Play Store updates of the camera app, and Oreo beta since the launch of Essential Phone, and we're just getting started.
— Essential (@essential) November 30, 2017
For hardware, the development team did confirm that work on the second generation Essential phone is underway. One of the specific focus areas for the next version will be repair-ability as that came up as a concern with the initial release. The Essential team is also working on a charging dock accessory. That should be hitting the market soon as the final build has been completed. Essential says the price should be under $100. Finally, if you are hoping to get an Essential Phone in the Stellar Gray color it should be available before the end of the year. Unfortunately, the Ocean Depth version is still outstanding with no estimated date of availability.