Android 12 Developer Preview 1 is here, but it's not exactly easy to get. Because this first Android 12 version is meant for developers, Google isn't just making it an opt-in process like later beta versions will be. But, if you're willing to take the risk (and not get upset if and when things go wrong), here's where to get it.
Developer previews, as the name suggests, are meant for developers. We urge most of our readers not to install them. Even if you're comfortable taking the risk, at least don't install them on your "daily driver" or any device you depend on to have full functionality.
You should be willing and able to provide quality feedback to Google if you run into any issues, with detailed steps to reproduce any problems, paired with system logs. You should also have the skills to troubleshoot general Android problems in severity ranging from simple app crashes or wiping app data to fixing a soft brick — or be willing to pick up those skills independently as you run into issues. If any of that sounds like too much work, hold off for now.
Google's developer site has been updated today with a whole host of Android 12-related details, and among them are a pair of download pages for full factory images and sideloadable OTA files. In the future, installing Android 12 will be a snap: Just register for the Android Beta Program. But right now, that program is closed, so the only way to install this preview is manually by using those files.
While you can unlock your bootloader and install flash the full factory image, that isn't the route we'd suggest, as it's a pain, potentially risky, can break SafetyNet attestation, and requires wiping your phone. Instead, consider sideloading the OTA file for your device, as that does not require an unlocked bootloader, and no wipe is necessary. However, you still need to do a bit of prep work if you aren't set up for it.
Google's stock OTA images site has instructions for the process, and the same details apply to these preview releases. If you aren't familiar with the process at all, you should consider reviewing a detailed walkthrough for your computer platform before you try it for yourself. Installing the software and drivers required is an easier process on some operating systems than it is on others.
- A computer (PC, macOS, or Linux). Or, if you're exceptionally adventurous: Another phone with USB OTG functionality.
- A supported phone to install Android 12 on: Pixel 3 series, Pixel 3a series, Pixel 4 series, Pixel 4a series, or Pixel 5.
- A known good cable to connect #1 to #2.
The easy way
Google has made DP1 available with the Android Flash Tool, which makes the process pretty simple and linear, with no tools to install. Just fire up the site at the link below, plug in, and follow the instructions:
This is our recommended route. However, as a backup, you can also install it manually.
Alternative, older method
- Install the Android SDK tools (i.e., ADB) and USB drivers (if you're using Windows).
- Download the Developer Preview OTA image for your device.
- Connect your phone to your computer.
- Reboot into recovery (via ADB/USB debugging or the key combination) and enter sideloading mode. Power+volume up opens the Recovery menu, scroll via the volume keys to "apply update from ADB," and select it with a tap of the power button.
- Check that and prior steps worked by entering "adb devices" (no quotes) in a shell or command prompt. If ADB is installed and your phone is in the correct mode, you should see an identifier for your phone and a "sideload" state reported.
- Flash the OTA via a shell or command prompt, using "adb sideload your_file_name_here.zip" with no quotes, where the filename is the name of the OTA image you downloaded earlier. On some platforms, you'll need to precede adb commands with "./" for them to work correctly.
- Stare anxiously at your phone while it slowly installs.
- Reboot when done.
Once you have the preview installed, future Android 12 updates and releases will be delivered like any other normal system update, without requiring that you hit all these steps again, and your phone will automatically end up in the beta track later.