(Pocket-lint) - Google has made the public beta of Android 11 available to download and install. Here's how to get it on your device.

What is the Android 11 public beta?

The Android 11 public beta is a nearly finished software build that consumers can test. It's not the final build, which is due later this summer.

Beta tests are released prior to a software's official launch, and they typically follow developer beta tests. 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 issues and to give developers time to update their apps.

Because of that, we don't recommend you use the Android 11 public beta on your primary phone. Instead, use a secondary device. If you choose to install the software now, be aware that it will be a bit ropey and apps might not work.

Which phones support the Android 11 public beta?

The Android 11 public beta is currently only available for the following Google's Pixel devices: 

  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a
  • Pixel 3a XL
  • Pixel 4
  • Pixel 4 XL

However, the beta will come to more devices in the coming months and the following devices are those we already have confirmation about:

  • Xiaomi Mi 10

When to get the Android 11 public beta

Normally, the public beta would've arrived at Google's developer conference, Google I/O. But, this year,it was quietly announced in June.

Android Beta Program

Google makes it as easy as possible for you to try Android 11 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, and Android Q/10. 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 11 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 11 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".

How to get the Android 11 developer preview

The developer preview is an early version of Android 11 specifically for developers. If you're not a developer, join the public beta instead.

Get your phone ready

The first step is getting your Pixel ready. To get that device prepared, you have to enable a couple of developer options:

  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 11

At this point, you can flash Android 11 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 11 developer preview.

Want to know more about Android 11?

Check out our guide on all the new features here.

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Cam Bunton.