Get An­droid O on a Nexus or Pixel phone

If you want to check out An­droid O’s new­est fea­tures be­fore they are officially re­leased to the pub­lic, MICHAEL SI­MON shows how

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google is con­stantly at work per­fect­ing the lat­est ver­sion of An­droid, but you might not know that you can help test it out. Be­fore any new ver­sion is re­leased, whether it’s a full new ma­jor ‘sweet treat’ ver­sion (such as the new An­droid O beta) or a simple main­te­nance re­lease, you can sign up to test it weeks or months be­fore it’s avail­able for pub­lic down­load. All you need is a Google ac­count and the right phone.

And Google makes it easy to sign up, as long as you have one of the newer ‘pure An­droid’ hand­sets. Cur­rently, the list is pretty short, but if you own a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or one of the Pixel phones, you’re all set. (Ad­di­tion­ally, you can in­stall the beta on the short-lived Nexus Player set-top box, and the Pixel C tablet.)

Those phones should be good for the rest of this year, as Google has vowed that Nexus level de­vices will “re­ceive ma­jor up­dates for at least two years.” For ex­am­ple, the 2014 Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 only re­cently dropped off the list, so last year’s Huawei and LG Nexus de­vices should be good at least through the re­main­der of 2017.

If you have the right hard­ware, head over to Google’s An­droid Beta Pro­gram web­site (tinyurl.com/hhjhq94). You’ll need to log in with your Google ac­count, and once you do, you’ll be taken to a page that ex­plains what the pro­gram is all about. The usual beta dis­claimers ap­ply, and Google warns that the up­dates “may con­tain er­rors and de­fects that can af­fect nor­mal func­tion­ing of your de­vice.” So be­fore you en­rol you’re phone, it’s a good idea to back up your data first, just in case.

In the mid­dle of the page, you’ll see a list of your el­i­gi­ble de­vices, with an En­rol but­ton next to it. Tap it and you’ll see be taken to a disclaimer screen. Check the agree box, select Join beta, and in a cou­ple sec­onds you’ll be in.

If a new beta isn’t avail­able, it will be busi­ness as usual on your phone. Se­cu­rity up­dates will be in­stalled as nor­mal, as well as any of­fi­cial re­leases, and you

won’t know any­thing has changed. Once a beta does land, you’ll get a no­ti­fi­ca­tion about it just like you nor­mally would (although it will in­di­cate that it’s a beta up­date), or you can check in the usual place: Scroll down to the About phone tab in Set­tings, and select Sys­tem up­dates. It will in­stall over-the-air nor­mally, with a restart, and when­ever a new one re­leases, you’ll go through the same process. And when the ver­sion you’re test­ing re­leases pub­licly, you’ll be able to in­stall that ver­sion on your phone, too.

If you’ve flashed your de­vice and just want to in­stall the files your­self with­out reg­is­ter­ing for the pro­gram, you can grab them from Google Devel­op­ers site (tinyurl.com/am8Ln3s). Just scroll down to the Lat­est sec­tion, find the ver­sion you’re look­ing for, and fol­low the link to get to the Pub­lic Beta Im­ages page. Then, lo­cate your de­vice and down­load the

ap­pro­pri­ate file. (The An­droid O beta down­loads are avail­able from tinyurl.com/pj3sovs.)

With be­tas, Google is look­ing for feed­back, so if you spot some­thing that needs fix­ing, you can con­tact Google di­rectly by head­ing to the Set­tings app, tap­ping About, and then Send feed­back about this de­vice. Ad­di­tion­ally, Google hosts an An­droid Beta Pro­gram Google+ com­mu­nity (tinyurl.com/y9zsen2y), where you can share feed­back with other users.

Fi­nally, if you’re hav­ing se­ri­ous prob­lems with a par­tic­u­lar beta, you can al­ways down­grade to the most re­cent stable ver­sion. Sim­ply select Unen­roll de­vice on the same An­droid Beta Pro­gram page where you reg­is­tered your de­vice, and Google will de­liver the lat­est gen­eral re­lease to your phone. How­ever, as Google warns, it “will wipe all data on the de­vice,” so once again, you’ll want to back up your data be­fore down­grad­ing.

If there is a beta to in­stall, it will show up when you select the Check for Up­date but­ton

If a par­tic­u­lar beta is giv­ing you fits, you can eas­ily un­en­rol from the pro­gram and down­grade to a stable re­lease. But back up your data first

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