The second Android 12 Developer Preview is now available, which means the build is more stable — though it’s still not recommended for daily use.
Because it’s a Developer Preview rather than a public beta, Google has limited the number of ways you can get it. If you want to pull off this magic trick, you’ll need to be familiar with the Android SDK and your computer’s command-line tools, but we’ll walk you through it.
Which phones are compatible with the Android 12 Beta?
Google has released nine phones that support the Android 12 Developer Preview:
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3a XL
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 4 XL
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4a 5G
- Pixel 5
Using the Android Flash Tool, configure Android 12.
This year, you can install the Android 12 preview on your phone using the Android Flash Tool, a web-based version of the ADB developer tool.
- Go to the website for the Android Flash Tool.
- In your browser, allow the site to access ADB.
- On your phone, enable Developer Mode.
- In the Developer Settings, enable USB Debugging.
- On your handset, enable OEM Unlocking.
- Connect your phone to a computer’s USB port.
- To install the beta, select the device from the pop-up menu and follow the instructions.
By flashing the bootloader, you can install Android 12 Developer Preview.
The only way to get the Android 12 Developer Preview right now is to flash a factory JPEG. You can flash a full factory image over any version of Android to fully reset your phone, or you can sideload an OTA (over-the-air) image onto an existing Android 11 install to keep your data.
It is highly recommended that you have prior experience working with the Android SDK (software development kit) and the Terminal (OS X or Linux) or Command Prompt (Windows) before proceeding with the steps of sideloading Android updates, as it is possible to damage your device if anything goes wrong in the process.
Enable USB debugging and developer settings.
- Go to the Settings section of your phone.
- Scroll down to the section titled “About Phone/Tablet.”
- The dialogue box will tell you, you are now a developer if you tap the Build number seven times.
- Return to the Settings menu and select System from the drop-down menu.
- Select Advanced.
- Select Developer from the drop-down menu.
- Turn on OEM Unlocking.
- To go, enter your Pin or Passcode.
- Activate OEM Debugging.
This should be everything you need to do on your phone or tablet for the time being if done properly.
Getting your bootloader unlocked:
You can unlock the bootloader on Pixel phones purchased directly from Google. You’ll need to do this if you want to manually flash software.
You must first enter your bootloader to do this. To enter your device’s Bootloader Menu, either turn off your phone or tablet and hold down the power and volume down buttons or type the following commands into your terminal or command prompt.
To ensure that your device is correctly connected to your computer, run the command below. If it gives you a string of characters, you’re ready to start upgrading your device.
Simply run the following command to access the Bootloader menu.
./adb reboot bootloader
Several items, including the device’s lock state, will be displayed at the bottom of the screen. Unless you’ve previously unlocked your bootloader and never locked it again, this should say locked.
You must enter the following commands to unlock your bootloader, which is needed only when flashing a stock firmware image (not sideloading an update). Keep in mind that unlocking your phone’s bootloader would factory reset your device, erasing everything you’ve saved on it. If you have not yet backed up any important data on your device, you can reboot it by pressing the power button while the Start option is highlighted in the Bootloader menu. Now it’s time to get back to unlocking your bootloader.
Now type the following:
./fastboot flashing unlock
On the handset, a dialogue will appear asking if you are sure you want to unlock it. Again, this will factory reset your device, so if you want to stop the process, just press the power button and select no. If you’re ready to unlock your bootloader, press the volume up button and then the power button to confirm.
Before proceeding to the next step, it is recommended that the bootloader be rebooted to ensure that everything is working properly.
Also Read: How To Install Custom ROM On Android
Flashing your phone with the Android 12 Factory Image
It’s time to flash the new firmware now that your bootloader has been unlocked. To get the images, go to the Android 12 Factory Images website, search for your device, and download the most recent version. It’s easiest to uncompress the file in the Platform Tools folder (where the ADB and fastboot files are) so you don’t have to type the paths to the various files when flashing the firmware. (Alternatively, if you know how to copy the path by dragging a file into a terminal window, do so.)
To begin, ensure that you are still in your device’s bootloader menu and that your bootloader is indeed unlocked.
To begin, double-check that your computer and phone or tablet are communicating properly. If your device’s serial number is returned as a connected device, you’re ready to start upgrading it.
You can start flashing after you’ve confirmed that the phone and computer can communicate in the way they need to.
The flash-all script is the simplest way to install any Android factory image via the bootloader. Inside the image you downloaded, you’ll find an a.bat file for Windows and an a.sh file for Mac and Linux, all of which will automate the entire process for you. To begin, ensure that your phone is plugged in and that it remains plugged in throughout the process. Then type the command that follows.
This process should not be interrupted once it has begun, and it wipes all of your user data by default. Just let it run its course, and when it’s finished, you’ll be redirected to Android 12.
You can also flash each file separately. The steps are a little more involved, but the general concept is the same: enter a command to flash a file and don’t touch anything until your terminal window says it’s done.
To begin, run the following command to flash the updated bootloader.
./fastboot flash bootloader [bootloader file].img
You won’t see anything on your device’s screen, but dialogue can appear in your terminal or command prompt. After the bootloader has been flashed, reboot into the bootloader to ensure that everything is still working properly.
The upgraded radios are then flashed. If you’re upgrading the firmware of a phone or tablet with built-in cellular radios, you’ll need to do this.
./fastboot flash radio [radio file].img
Finally, it’s time to flash your phone or tablet with the real system picture.
Warning: The following line of code will completely wipe your device. Normally, you can delete the “-w” from the command, but this isn’t guaranteed to work if you’re using a beta version of Android.
./fastboot -w update [image file].zip
Your phone will restart and boot up normally once this is completed. Because this procedure wipes all data from your device, it will take a little longer for it to boot up the first time. You’ve successfully flashed a new version of the firmware when you’re greeted with the device setup walkthrough process.
The Android 12 OTA Image is being flashed to your phone.
If you want to try out Android 12 on your Pixel but don’t want to lose your data, sideloading the full OTA picture is the best choice. This will install Android 12 over the current Android 11 build, but all of your data will remain intact. Before you begin, make sure there are no OTA updates on your Pixel that have yet to be installed. Make sure there are no pending updates by going to Settings > About phone > System updates. Also, make sure your phone’s USB debugging is turned on.
To begin, go to the Android 12 OTA images page and select the appropriate build for your Pixel. You’ll need ADB to sideload the build onto your Pixel, and I recommend Universal ADB Drivers. You can start sideloading the build once you have that installed on your Windows machine and the OTA image has been downloaded.
You’ll need to start by putting your phone into recovery mode. You can enter the bootloader menu by powering off and holding the Power and Volume Down buttons together for a few seconds, then selecting the recovery option with the Volume Down button.
The Android mascot should be face down with an exclamation mark over it. To enter recovery mode, hold down the Power button and press Volume Up once. Using the Volume Up button, navigate to the option that says Apply update from ADB, and confirm the selection by pressing the Power button once.
The OTA screenshot is now ready to be sideloaded. Check to see if your phone can connect to your computer and is detectable. Connect your Pixel to your computer and type the following command in the command prompt:
You should be able to see your phone’s serial number, as well as the, sideload option next to it. Now we can flash the OTA build by typing the following command in CMD:
adb sideload ota_file.zip
You’ll need to replace ota file.zip with the filename of the OTA build for your specific device. I’m using CMD to install Android 12 on a Pixel 3 XL, so I typed in adb sideload crosshatch-ota-spp1.210122.020.a3-d0b7a955.zip. Make sure the OTA file is in the same directory as the CMD route for this to work.
After you’ve transferred the OTA file to your phone, it’ll return to the recovery menu. To restart your phone, go to Reboot system now and confirm with the Power button.
What comes next with Android 12?
Google promises to release the final version of Android 12 for Pixel phones in August 2021, so we still have a long way to go.
We’re currently using Android 12 Developer Preview 2, which solves a few bugs and adds a few new features, including one-handed mode.
There will be another developer preview in April, followed by the first beta in early May. When that beta is ready, Google will make it available to everyone, not just developers, through the Android Beta Program.