Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - Google has announced the latest version of Android. It's called Android 12 and the first public beta is being rolled out from now. 

What is the Android 12 public beta?

Public beta tests are released prior to a software's official launch, and they typically follow developer beta tests.

When it arrives, it'll be a nearly finished software build that consumers can test. It's not the final build, however, as that won't arrive until this autumn. To see the full Android 12 release timeline, check out Pocket-lint's Android 12 guide here.

Google offers developer and public betas to collect feedback from developers and everyday users, respectively. In these early phases, when the software is still in development, Google also uses betas to iron out potential issues and to give developers ample time to update their apps.

Because of that, we don't recommend you use the Android 12 public beta on your primary phone. Instead, use a secondary device. If you choose to install the software, be aware that it will be a bit ropey and apps might not work. Hopefully, that will all be worked before the final release.

How to get the Android 12 public beta

Google has said that its first beta for Android 12 is already available and you can sign up on compatible devices right now. It may take a few hours after the opening keynote for it to show for everyone, but hopefully no more than that. Some have been able to sign up for it already. 

Android Beta Program

Google has make it as easy as possible for you to try the Android 12 public beta on your device, by offering the Android Beta Program. This allows anyone enrolled to update their Android device to the public beta and receive over-the-air updates for free.

This same beta program was used for Android Nougat, Oreo, Pie, Android Q/10, and Android 11. It's simple. You don't have to flash updates or anything that complicated.

Here's how you get started:

  1. Visit google.com/android/beta to sign-up for the Android Beta Program.
  2. Sign in to your Google account when prompted.
  3. Your eligible devices will be listed on the next page, click to enroll in the Beta Program.
  4. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update to check for available downloads. It should show up within a few minutes.

If you've used the Android Beta Program before the Android 12 public beta, you will need to re-enroll your phone. Once you're enrolled, you'll continue to be updated to every new version of the Android 12 beta automatically, over-the-air.

If you don't want those updates, or if you decide you no longer want the beta software, you can follow the steps above, but then click to "unenroll device".

Which phones support the Android 12 beta?

You need one of the following Android devices to install the developer beta:

  • Pixel 3 and 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a and 3a XL
  • Pixel 4 and 4 XL
  • Pixel 4a and 4a (5G)
  • Pixel 5

What about the Android 12 developer preview?

The developer preview is an early version of Android 12 specifically for developers to test. If you're not a developer, join the public beta instead.

TomTom Go Navigation App is a premium mobile navigation app for all drivers, with a three-month free trial

How to get the Android 12 developer preview

The video below walks through how to get the Android 11 preview on your device, but the steps mentioned are pretty much the same for Android 12.

Get your Android phone ready

The first step is getting your Android phone ready. You need to use a Pixel phone for the developer preview. And, to get that device prepared, you have to enable a couple of developer options. Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Settings > About Phone and now find 'Build Number'.
  2. Tap that repeatedly until you get the pop-up telling you that you're now a developer.
  3. Enter your PIN.
  4. Go to Settings > System > Advanced and find 'Developer Options'.
  5. Now you have to find the toggle near USB debugging and enable that.
  6. Also toggle the option to enable OEM Unlocking.
  7. Type in your PIN again, and hit 'enable'.

Now your phone is ready, and all you need to do is plug it in to your PC or Mac. If you're using Windows, you'll likely need to install a driver, which you can get here. You might also need to select the USB mode from the drop-down shade on your phone and select file transfer mode.

Flash Android 12

At this point, you can flash Android 12 using the Flash Tool page:

  1. Open Chrome, and go to the Android Developer Preview downloads page.
  2. You'll see a list of devices, now click the link next to your device on the list.
  3. The Android Flash Tool page will open.
  4. You'll get a popup asking you for permission to access your ADB keys. Click 'OK'.
  5. Hit 'get started'
  6. Now you'll be told to do all the things we did at the start to get your phone ready.
  7. Now hit 'add a new device'.
  8. A new popup window will show up with any compatible connected devices.
  9. Click on your Pixel, and hit 'Connect'.
  10. Another pop-up will show up on your phone screen that says 'Allow USB debugging'.
  11. Hit the checkmark on the popup on your phone screen to enable it
  12. The phone show as connected on the Android Flash Tool page in your desktop browser.
  13. Click on it, and then on the next screen, it'll show you what it's about to install.
  14. Hit 'Install', and then you need to agree to some terms.
  15. Reselect the device you want to install the preview on.
  16. Unlock your device's bootloader: Hit 'Start' in the Flash Tool on our desktop.
  17. On your phone, you'll see a black screen with text like "Do not unlock the bootloader".
  18. Now press your Pixel's volume down button until it says 'Unlock the bootloader'.
  19. Press the power button to select.

Your phone is completely ready to have the software installed. Watch your Chrome browser, and don't do anything more with your phone. Let the process run itself. Even if your phone screen changes to have the Fastboot menu on it, just let it be, and the process will continue. You'll see it download and install. Eventually, the process will complete and your phone will reboot.

It'll take you through the usual phone setup process, and once that's done, you'll be running the Android 12 developer preview.

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Cam Bunton. Originally published on 10 March 2016.