Android 12 stock photo 7

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Move over Android 11, there’s a new developer preview in town! The last few Android versions have focused more on refinement than on reinventing the OS, and this trend apparently continues with Android 12 Developer Preview. Google says their main goal is to make Android 12 “more intuitive, better performing, and more secure.” You can learn more about the new Android Developer Preview in our announcement feature.

As you’d expect with a first preview, Android 12 Developer Preview is aimed solely at developers and is a very early build. We caution against trying it out unless you have a secondary device lying around, as it’s certainly too buggy to use as a daily driver. For those that have a spare Pixel or who want to throw caution to the wind, your only choice for now is to manually download and apply the update. While using a factory image is typically the default method, we highly recommend skipping the factory images in favor of OTA images. While you will still have to manually install it, using an OTA image doesn’t require you to wipe your device completely. Of course, if you are a developer and want the cleanest method, factory images might be better.

Editor’s note: The current Android Developer Preview is only compatible with Google Pixel smartphones from the Pixel 3 series forward. Later Developer Previews may extend to devices beyond the Pixel family, but we wouldn’t expect this anytime soon. 


Here’s what you need to get started

Android 12 stock photo 2

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • A compatible Pixel 3 or later device and a USB cable to connect it to your computer.
  • The Android SDK installed on your machine with ADB and Fastboot command successfully working — check the tutorial here.

Now for the actual steps.


Download the proper files to install Android 12 Developer Preview

You must download the proper file for your device before you get started. We recommend using OTA images over factory images, as the process is easier to do and allows you to keep old files if that’s something you’re interested in.

Click here to grab the OTA image for your specific Pixel device. It’s also possible to use the full factory images (here), though that requires extra hoops like unlocking your bootloader and more. So if you want to keep things simple, we recommend sideloading the OTA, and we designed our directions below for this install type.


Prepare your phone

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Once you’ve installed the file, you need to reboot your phone into Recovery Mode in order to apply the OTA. You’re ready to install Android 12 Developer Preview!

  1. First shut off your phone.
  2. Next, hold down Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time.
  3. The bootloader menu will now show up. Use volume buttons to scroll down to Recovery Mode.
  4. Select Recovery Mode by clicking the power button.
  5. You’ll be presented with an Android robot with an exclamation mark on it. Now you’ll press power button and volume up button for about a second.
  6. Release the volume up button will send you fully into recovery.
  7. Next, use the volume buttons and scroll down to Apply update from ADB. Push the power button to select the option.
  8. Lastly, you’ll see a blank screen telling you how to sideload an OTA.

Prepare your PC to install Android 12 Developer Preview

Now that your phone is ready, it’s time to make the magic happen.

  1. Connect your handset to your PC via USB cable. Remember, your PC needs to have ADB tools installed. 
  2. On Windows, enter Command Prompt. On Linux or Mac, you’ll want to use Terminal. For Windows users: make sure you navigate to wherever you’re storing the folder.
  3. Next, you must enter adb sideload for Windows, or ./adb sideload for Mac/Linux.
  4. Now you’ll want to enter the name of the .zip folder from before. Hit enter.
  5. Once completed, your phone will return to Recovery Mode and you can remove the USB cable.
  6. Go to Reboot Now with the volume keys and press the power button.

That’s it. If everything went okay, you were able to install Android 12 Developer Preview successfully.

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