Update February 18 at 2:10 PM ET: Google has released its first version. Android 12 developer previews, so we’ve updated the information in this post to be relevant if you want to install it on your phone. Android 11 may have been mentioned in the tutorials, but we made sure the steps were correct anyway.
If you own a Pixel 3 or newer, you can try the Android 12 developer preview software right now, but if the idea of flashing your device to install the operating system is scary, it’s understandable. This can be a difficult process and the steps will differ slightly depending on the phone you have and what type of computer you will be using to download the software. But Google itself makes this process much more streamlined.
Google’s Android Flash Tool It is a web application that does most of the flashing steps for you. There are a few steps you’ll need to do yourself before the new software we’ll walk you through can be installed, but Google’s tool basically removes most of the hassle and complexity that makes confusion easy.
Here are a few important notes to make at the top. First, when you flash your phone with the developer preview, your device will receive all future developer previews and beta updates over the air. In other words, you will not need to re-flash your phone when new versions of Android 12 are released. Just go to your system settings and get an update.
The second note is your standard disclaimer that you do this at your own risk. This is unfinished software and installing it may cause malfunctions in your device or the software you usually use. And depending on the settings you have made in the Android Flash Tool, you may need to delete all the data on your phone. So proceed with caution.
Is my phone compatible with Android 12?
Android 12 developer preview is compatible with Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3A, Pixel 3A XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4A, Pixel 4A 5G, and Pixel 5. It is possible that Google will expand the list. The number of devices supported by Android 12 in the upcoming beta, but for now, you will need one of these phones to get the software.
Which browser do I need to use to flash my phone?
Google says you can use any browser that supports the WebUSB API, supported by Chrome as well as Microsoft Edge version 79 and later. Android Flash Tool works with all major operating systems including Linux, macOS, Chrome OS and Windows 10, but browser compatibility may vary depending on your operating system.
Step 1: Enable these three settings on your Android phone
- Enable the Developer Options menu on your phone. First, open the Settings app. For phones running Android 8 (Oreo), click System. Otherwise, if your phone has Android 7 (Nougat) or later, scroll down to About Phone and then find the Build Number. Tap the Build Number seven times to enable Developer Options.
- Turn on USB debugging (this allows your phone and computer to communicate over USB) in the Developer Options menu. To do this go to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer Options. Just scroll down a bit and you’ll find USB debugging.
- Enable OEM unlock. This option is also part of the Developer Options menu above where you find USB debugging. If this option is not available for you to activate, it may be because it is already activated.
Step 2: Connect your phone to your computer and get started
- If you are using Windows 10, you will need to install this driver First for your phone to be recognized. People using macOS or Linux don’t need the driver.
- Connect your phone to your computer with a USB cable. back then visit this page to continue.
- The Android Flash Tool will ask for permission to access ADB keys in a popup, which is required to install software on your phone. You will need to tap “OK” to continue this process.
- Click “Select device”. Your device should appear in a popup on your computer, so go ahead and click it.
- After doing that, you will see “Allow USB debugging?” on your phone. You should see a request that says Also, if you click the gear icon on the Android Flash Tool page, you’ll see a long string of numbers and letters that should match what your computer is displaying. Check the box next to “Always allow from this computer” on your phone, then tap Allow.
- After that, your device should appear connected in Android Flash Tool. Click on the box with your device name to continue.
- You’ll want to pay attention to what appears in the “Selected build” section of the Flash Tool (see below). It should say “Android 12 Developer Preview 1”. Before hitting the blue “Install” button at the bottom of the page, I recommend tapping the pencil icon next to “Selected build” and checking the “Lock Bootloader” box. Once this is done it will lock the bootloader and leave a safer device as it remains unlocked.
- The next window basically tells you to stop interacting with your phone and not unplugging it unless prompted for the remainder of this process. If you are able to continue, continue.
- One more prompt before we begin: a license agreement. You must accept the terms of the Android Software Development Kit License Agreement, which you can find here.
- After pressing the “I agree” button, your phone will reboot into the bootloader screen. If nothing happens in a few seconds, don’t worry. You may also see a window appear on your computer that says “Reselect your device”. In this case, leave your phone alone and select “Reselect device” on the computer. According to Google, your phone may be named “Android”, but it can only be identified by its model name (e.g. Pixel 3).
- If you haven’t flashed the software before, Google will likely need to unlock your bootloader to continue installing. Note that doing this will trigger a factory reset on your phone. If you haven’t backed up your data, you will lose everything. Once you agree, you need to allow the bootloader to be unlocked on your phone. To do this, use the volume keys to navigate to the option that says “Unlock bootloader” then press the power button once to confirm.
- After that, Android Flash Tool will start downloading and installing the software. You can continue watching, but don’t touch your phone at this point, even if it restarts several times. Take a look at the progress using the Android Flash Tool page on your computer.
When you’re done, the phone will reboot one last time and you’ll be greeted with a congratulatory screen on your PC. You’re done! And thankfully, you won’t have to go through this process again for the next Android 12 update – it’s that easy. You will automatically receive updates to the developer preview over the air.