The very first look at Android 12 has just arrived courtesy of the developer preview release. The beta program meant for the public won’t be available for a few months yet, but if you just can’t wait to get your hands on the next version of Android, here’s how to install the Android 12 Developer Preview on Google Pixel devices.

Note: As a developer preview, Android 12 will likely be unstable and won’t be suitable for daily use. Install at your own risk. This article will go over how to install the preview without fully wiping your smartphone. If you are running a custom ROM you should install a Factory Image instead of an OTA.

How to sideload Android 12 Developer Preview on Google Pixel

  1. Download the needed files
  2. Boot into Recovery mode
  3. Navigate to ADB sideload
  4. Connect the handset to a computer with ADB tools installed
  5. Enter the sideload command
  6. Reboot your phone

1. Download Android 12

To get started, you’ll first need to download the files needed to actually put Android 12 on your Pixel. There are two ways to do so. First, you can install a Factory Image, which wipes your phone and starts everything from scratch. Alternatively, and the way we’ll detail here, there’s an OTA file, which installs over your current version of Android without wiping your phone.

You can download the beta OTA file from Google’s Full OTA Image hosting site. That site contains OTA downloads for sideloading different updates, including Android 12, on every Pixel and Nexus device, so you’ll need to scroll down to ensure you are downloading the file that associates with your device. OTA downloads are available here.

For the Android 12 Developer Preview, only Google Pixel 3/XL, Pixel 3a/XL, Pixel 4/XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 are available. You won’t be able to install it on the original Pixel/XL or Pixel 2/XL.

2. Boot into Recovery mode

Next, you’ll boot your Pixel into Recovery mode. To do this, fully power down your handset. Then, hold down on the Power button and the Volume down button at the exact same time until you get to the Bootloader page. You will know you’re in the right place when you see an Android figure lying down on the screen.

Using your volume buttons, scroll down to Recovery mode. Select this by clicking the power button. Alternatively, if you’re already connected to a computer with ADB, you can use the reboot recovery command.

Now you should see a smaller Android lying down with an exclamation mark over it. From here, press the Power button and the Volume up button for about a second to fully enter Recovery mode. Releasing the Volume up button will send you into Recovery.

3. Navigate to ADB sideload

Using the volume buttons, scroll down to Apply update from ADB and select it with the power button. This will launch a mostly blank screen with text near the bottom directing you on how to sideload an OTA, such as this one for the Android 12 Developer Preview.

4. Connect the handset to a computer with ADB tools installed

This step is important as it’s the only way to transfer the downloaded OTA file to your handset. You’ll need to have ADB and Fastboot tools in a handy place. You can download ADB tools from the Android Developers website. You can also use the Universal ADB Drivers from ClockWorkMod which can make the process a bit easier on Windows devices.

5. Enter the sideload command

As long as everything is in place, you can now sideload the OTA file. On Windows, ensure your Command Prompt is directed to the ADB tools folder and type in adb sideload. If you’re on macOS or Linux, do the same thing in Terminal (use “cd” and “ls” commands to make sure your Terminal is pointed at the right folder, Google it if you need help) but type in ./adb sideload. You’ll then need to insert the file name of the .zip folder you downloaded from Google and hit enter to start the process.

If everything is working properly, you should see some dialog on your computer and handset that shows the process of the sideload and installation process.

6. Reboot your phone

Once the OTA is done installing, you will be taken back to Recovery Mode. The last step to jump into the new update is to select the Reboot now option with your power button.

Note: This process won’t wipe your device, but it’s good practice to backup any irreplaceable data in the case something goes wrong.

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