Google has a public beta of the next version update of Android, Nougat 7.1.2, available for Pixel and Nexus devices.

Google typically announces the Android preview during its Google I/O developer conference held annually in May. In 2016 - for the first time - the developer preview was made available early so many could test Android 7 before launch. Google is now incrementally repeating the process, with latest version being Android 7.1.2, with the wider roll-out of Android 7.1.1 still underway.

Here are two different routes you can take: the traditional developer route and the super-friendly Android Beta Program route. Read on to find out more.

A public beta is a "work in progress" build that is released prior to a consumer rollout of the final software. Google offers the beta to collect and incorporate user feedback.

The aim is really to tease out problems with specific devices and allow developers to update apps to support 7.1.2's new features or changes, if there are any.

In the initial phases Google is offering Android 7.1.2 for:

These will be the first wave, but Google has confirmed that the Nexus 6P will be included soon, but not right away.

There's no mention of the Nexus 6 or Nexus 9 on this public beta.

As this is an Android 7.1.2 Nougat public beta, it should be stable and nearing completion, but some features may still be subject to change and there may be some performance problems or incompatibilities.

Google wants to make it easier for you to try Android 7.1.2 Nougat on device, so it's also offering the Android Beta Program that allows anyone enrolled to update their Android devices to the preview and receive over-the-air updates. It's very much like Microsoft's Windows Insider programme.

The same beta was used for Android 7.0 and 7.1 and is very simple, meaning you don't have to get involved in flashing updates or anything complicated.

Here's how to get started:

  1. Visit android.com/beta to sign-up to the Android Beta Program.
  2. Sign into your Google account when prompted.
  3. Your eligible devices will be listed on the next page, click to enrol in the Beta Program.
  4. Updates will arrive over the air direct to your device.

That's it, it's so simple.

If you've used the Android Beta Program before and enrolled your device previously, it will already be on the list and will automatically receive the updates when they become available.

If you don't want those updates, you can follow the steps above, but then click to "unenrol device".

The more traditional way to get the Android Nougat developer preview is to go the system image/manual flashing route. You can download images from Google and then flash them onto your device, but it will be a fresh install, with everything erased. Here's the site where you can download them, and once the images are live, we'll update the links below for specific devices. 

  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus Player
  • Pixel C

This page details how to flash while also providing step-by-step instructions that'll get you going.

Keep in mind flashing a system image will wipe all the information off your device, so ensure you back up important data beforehand. Also, flashing additional Android Nougat preview images will cause more data wipes, and if go this route, you will not get automatic OTA updates like you do with the Android Beta Program (as above).