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Android 12’s first preview releases are probably just around the corner. If you’re hoping to check it out early and this is your first time, we’ve put together a quick overview of the subject based on our years of experience that should help you get ready for your first look at Android 12 when it lands.

Who is it for?

To start, we need to make it abundantly clear that the first Developer Previews for Android 12 are, as their name should imply, intended for developers. Although enthusiasts (including myself) will probably download them for fun, they are frequently buggy and unstable, and Google did not make them for us. They exist so developers can play with new APIs and other system-level changes, and provide feedback for those adjustments before they’re finalized, ahead of the ultimate release.

Sometimes Google’s adjustments have unintended consequences, and developers are the first to spot potential concerns so they can be tweaked. Stability issues are common during these early stages. Even if recent previews have been particularly stable, there’s no guarantee they will be for Android 12. Problems could range from app crashes to unexpected restarts, or even potentially more serious issues like bootloops or data corruption.

Look forward to new features like the privacy indicators (depicted above) for when the mic and camera are in use, though they may not appear in the first release.

Not infrequently, Developer Previews have issues that require troubleshooting to fix. A soft brick is possible, but unlikely. You should be comfortable with mucking around in a recovery menu and manually sideloading an OTA via ADB if necessary — or at least be willing to learn the process independently if and when things go wrong.

I also recommend that you be willing and able to provide Google with bug reports if you run into any issues or unexpected behavior. Think of this as Android’s exit row seating: There’s a responsibility that comes with this extra Android 12 legroom, and you’re expected to provide quality feedback. That doesn’t mean a slapdash rant about icon spacing fired off via the feedback app, that means pulling system logs, describing an issue in precise terms, and documenting the steps required to reproduce it so the issue can be addressed by engineers and fixed.

If you’re a smartphone enthusiast with a spare phone on hand, the developer previews can be fun. But if you’re thinking about installing them on your only device for day-to-day use, I would strongly advise against it.

When will it come out?

We don’t have an official release date at the time of writing, but if history is any indicator, there are just a handful of days that the first Android 12 Developer Preview might land on.

First, Google brought the normal release schedule forward by around a month last year, dropping the first Android 11 Developer Preview in February last year. The Android Beta Feedback app built into the preview and beta releases since Android 10 Q also got a random update in early February this year. It’s hardly conclusive proof, but it’s a strong indicator that we may see an earlier February release again this year for Android 12, though it could also land in early to mid-March as it did in prior years.

Dates marked in green are our guesses. 

Second, Google almost always releases preview and beta versions on a Wednesday (usually at 10AM PT). There have been exceptions, but they’re rare, so it’s likely we’ll see a Wednesday release again.

Taking a look at the calendar, and keeping in mind both of these details, a handful of dates are possible across February and March:

  • February 17th
  • February 24th
  • March 3rd
  • March 10th
  • March 17th

Recently Google has planned for six preview/beta releases, but last year we got a random extra one, and Android P did five. Absent any details, I’d expect a similar six-release schedule for Android 12 this year. Last year, Google also started the habit of pushing bug-fixing updates between those planned releases, and I’d expect that to continue.

The final stable release usually happens in Q3 around August or September.

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