Pixel 4a 5G

Google has announced the Android 12 Developer Preview is now available for registered developers with Pixel phones. Here’s how to download and install the new update.

The final version of Android 12 could be put up to six months away, but the process began today with the first Developer Preview. The first release is very much geared towards the establishing some new back-end APIs and tools to allow developers to prepare their apps for the new release.

However, if you’re curious to get a first look at a very early-stage version of Android 12, that’s liable to be super-buggy and very unstable, it can be downloaded and installed by the public. Albeit, rather trickily.

Android 12 DP compatibile phones

In order to download the Android 12 Developer Preview, you will need a Pixel smartphone. Older handsets like the original Pixel and Pixel 2/2XL miss out. Here are the eligible phones:

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL
Pixel 3a
Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL
Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G
Pixel 5

How to download Android 12 Developer Preview

Google isn’t just throwing this preview out into the wild for anyone to download, it’s a chore to get this preview onto your eligible smartphone. While the public are not prohibited from downloading the software, it is designed for developers.

To get started you’ll need to download the factory image for Android 12 to your computer. Google offers OTA Images for each of the eligible phones here. There are further instructions for getting it onto your phone here, but we’ll go through them here too.

Related: Best Android phones

How to install Android 12 Developer Preview

Once the image has been downloaded onto your computer, we’re ready to move forward. Next you’ll need to ensure USB Debugging is available on your phone. Head to Settings > About > Device and tap the build number 7 times. This makes Settings > Developer Options available.

Now you’ll need to boot the device into Recovery Mode. That means powering down your phone and turning it back on by holding the Power button and volume down rocker. This will bring you to a new page offering the chance to enter Recovery Mode, by scrolling with the volume buttons and selecting with the power buttons.

Now you’ll need to scroll down to to the Apply update from ADB option. After selecting this option, you’ll need to connect your phone to your computer and authorise access. You’ll also need to download the ADB tools from the Android Developers website. Once these boxes have been ticked On your computer you can run the command:

adb sideload (Windows), or ./adb sideload in the macOS and Linux in Terminal.

This should kickstart the sideload and installation process. Once complete you’ll be asked to reboot the phone, again using the power button as a confirmation button, in order to restart the phone with Android 12 DP running.

Although this method is designed to preserve all of the data on your phone, we wouldn’t advice carrying out the process on your primary smartphone. If you do, make sure you make a backup first.

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