The Android Q Beta has thus far only officially been available for Google’s own Pixel phones, unlike last year’s Android P Beta which launched on a significant number of non-Pixel phones. While other OEMs haven’t launched their beta programs yet, Google has provided an Android Q Beta 2 GSI that can be flashed to some non-Pixel phones, thanks to Project Treble. However, you probably shouldn’t install it just yet.
Last year’s Android P Beta was able to reach as many devices as it did because of Project Treble, which (if you’ll forgive a simplified explanation) allows the Android OS itself to be separated from the hardware-specific code.
A significant part of Project Treble is the creation of “Generic System Images” (or GSIs), which Google refers to as “pure Android,” usually made exclusively from Android Open Source Project code. These GSIs can be flashed to Project Treble-compatible devices, typically to allow them to run newer versions of Android.
Shortly after yesterday’s Android Q Beta 2 announcement, the folks at XDA-Developers noticed that Google also posted GSI builds of the latest Android Q Beta. Google’s official documentation notes that this GSI can be flashed to some devices for testing, but not all Project Treble devices are guaranteed to be compatible. Generally speaking, if your device launched on Android Pie and has an unlocked bootloader, it should be compatible, but Google has provided instructions on how to check for sure.
However, we currently cannot recommend that anyone go through with flashing the Android Q Beta GSI in its current state. The overwhelming majority of users who have reported flashing their devices have said that their device gets stuck in a loop and is unable to start up correctly.
Various users have tried to flash the Android Q Beta GSI on the OnePlus 6T, Xiaomi Pocophone F1, and the Essential Phone. Of these, only the Essential Phone was able to get it running, with some effort, only to find that core features of the phone like WiFi and Bluetooth don’t work at all. Google notes that these issues and more occur even on Pixel devices.
Despite knowing about these issues, Google released the Android Q Beta GSIs so that developers could get a head start on making sure their apps work correctly on Android Q outside of the emulator. App compatibility testing seems like it will be especially important with this release, as many notable apps like Pokemon Go and Firefox currently do not work in the Android Q Beta.
This experimental build of GSI binaries is intended for use only by developers who want early access to Android Q for the purpose of application validation.These binaries offer core OS and framework functionality that is common to all Android Q Beta builds, but they may be missing specific functionality as listed below and are not intended for end users or for commercial use.
If you’re a developer wanting to ensure your app will work correctly on Android Q without investing in a Google Pixel (or waiting for the Beta to reach more devices), you may want to download the official Android Q Beta 2 GSIs and check out the installation guide on the official Android Developers site. Otherwise, you’ll want to wait for the Beta to officially reach your device.
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