Android 12 stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • The very first Android 12 developer preview is available now. You can install it on select Google Pixel smartphones.
  • This first preview is mostly for developers and is far too unstable for you to use as a daily driver.
  • Google says the focus this year is to make Android “more intuitive, better performing, and more secure.”

Today’s the big day: our first official look at Android 12! The debut developer preview of the 2021 iteration of the world’s biggest operating system is now available.

The Android 12 developer preview will work on all Google Pixel smartphones from the Pixel 3 series forward. That means the Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a/3a XL, Pixel 4/4 XL, Pixel 4a/4a 5G, and Pixel 5. Earlier Pixel phones and phones from other OEMs are not compatible, but you can always use the Android Emulator within Android Studio if you like.

Related: All the Android 12 features we know of so far

As usual, this first DP is not intended for consumer use. Therefore, you can only manually install it. You can flash a factory image if you are OK with wiping your data and unlocking your bootloader. If not, you can sideload an OTA which won’t require an unlocked bootloader or data wipe. Either way, you will get OTAs for future preview launches as well as the inevitable beta versions.

However, please understand that this version of Android 12 should be considered completely unstable. It is not appropriate to use this as your daily driver, as it will cause all sorts of problems! As such, this is for developers and tinkerers only.

Android 12 developer preview: This is only a test

Android 12 stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Since we’re so early in the development of Android 12, this first developer preview won’t feature many new consumer-facing features. Instead, most of the features will be geared towards developers. As always, devs will find hints of consumer features within this code, so stay tuned for our coverage of those rumors.

Google did disclose what it aims to achieve with Android 12 overall. It says that this version of Android will be “more intuitive, better performing, and more secure” than other versions. Last year, Google’s big focus was on communication: notifications, messaging features, etc. So the Android 12 developer preview will have different priorities.

With that in mind, a lot of the confirmed features within Android 12 so far are all very technical. Google says Android 12 will allow for faster and higher quality image transcoding, which will allow for better-looking photos with smaller file sizes. Notifications will also be faster with more tools for developers to customize them. It will also be easier for devs to discover compatibility issues so they can get their apps up and running faster.

There are a few confirmed features, though, that consumers will appreciate. One is haptic-coupled audio, which will allow a phone’s vibration motor to sync with app audio, creating more immersive gaming experiences. Likewise, gesture navigation while your phone’s display is completely covered with media (like, say, when you’re watching a movie) will be easier and more consistent.

Stay tuned, as we will likely discover a lot of cool features over the next few days as we play with the Android 12 developer preview!

Related: Android versions: The history of the biggest mobile OS

When will everyone get Android 12?

Google says its goal is to reach platform stability by August 2021. In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google pushed the stable version of Android 11 on September 8. It’s possible Android 12 could land sooner than that this year, although it is highly unlikely it would land any earlier than August.

Meanwhile, the first beta for Android 11 launched on June 10, 2020. It isn’t unreasonable to expect a beta for Android 12 to land around that same time this year.

The bottom line is that the Android 12 developer preview is just the beginning. We have many months to go before general consumers should be using it!