Google I/O 2018 has kicked off, with the company revealing a public beta for the upcoming Android P, otherwise known as Android 9.0.

The final version of the operating system will be with us in the autumn, probably alongside some new Pixel phones.  

As well as announcing Android P will be with us in the autumn with a beta available now, Google also showcased some interesting new Android P features at its Google I/O developer event, too.

There are two different routes you can take if you want it: the traditional developer route, or the super-friendly Android Beta Program route. Read on to find out more - interestingly no tablets are supported in the preview this time. 

The Android P Beta is available today on Google Pixel, Essential Phone, OnePlus, Mi, Sony, Essential and Oppo handsets. That's the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 (plus XL versions), Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6 and Essential PH‑1 to be precise. 

Of course, the OnePlus 6 isn't out yet, but when it is you will be able to get the download. 

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 Android P's new features or changes, if there are any.

Google wants to make it as easy as possible for you to try Android P on a device, so it's offering the Android Beta Program again this year in addition to broadening the choice of handsets. It 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 program that enables you to check out early Windows features.

The same beta program was used for Android Oreo and Android Nougat 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. We're currently downloading the software on our team Pixel 2, but sometimes these updates take a day or so to show up naturally over-the-air. 

Once you're enrolled, you'll continue to be updated to every new version of the Android 9 "P" 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".

It's important to note that if you've used the Android Beta Program before, you will need to re-enroll your phone. You won't automatically get upgraded to Android P Follow the steps above to make sure you keep getting beta software. 

As you'd expect, the process of installing the beta on devices other than Google Pixels is a little more involved. Each manufacturer appears to be handling its own beta download process. 

For most of them it involves flashing your phone using Mac or PC. You can find links to the dedicated handset pages below which instruct you on how to download and install them on your device: 

The more traditional way to get the Android P 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.

      • Pixel 2
      • Pixel 2 XL
      • Pixel
      • Pixel XL

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

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

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