Google’s Android 12L is designed for big-screen phones and foldables akin to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the underserved Android tablet market. However, some Google Pixel owners can install Android 12L today through the beta program.
Is your Pixel compatible?
The first step to join the Android 12L beta program is to see what devices are compatible with the program. For now, that’s just Google’s own Pixel devices – and only those that have support windows ranging through mid-2022. That includes everything from the Pixel 3a series and onward.
Pixel devices compatible with Android 12L Beta
- Pixel 3a/XL
- Pixel 4/XL
- Pixel 4a/5G
- Pixel 5
- Pixel 5a
- Pixel 6 (coming soon)
- Pixel 6 Pro (coming soon)
Any of these devices should be compatible with the Android 12L Beta program regardless of region or carrier.
Is Android 12L available through the Android Beta Program?
Yes, Android 12L is available through Google’s easy-to-use Android Beta Program. You can sign-up on Google’s website.
Once you’ve ensured you have compatible devices, you can select which ones join the program. To enroll a device, simply click Opt-In, accept the terms and conditions, and then hit Join Beta. From that point, Google will work some magic on its servers to get the update to your device.
After you’ve opted in, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to get the update over to your device. You’ll need to ensure you’ve already installed any other updates before this one too. To check for the Android 12 beta update manually, head to Settings > System > Advanced > System Updates.
After you’ve installed a Beta build to your Pixel device, you’ll automatically be offered over-the-air updates of later preview builds. We’ll also deliver OTA images at each milestone, so you can choose the approach that works best for your test environment.
If you install the beta but later decide you want to go back to a stable release, you can visit this same site and un-enroll your device.
How to sideload Android 12L Beta on Google Pixel
- Download the needed files
- Boot into Recovery mode
- Navigate to ADB sideload
- Connect the handset to a computer with ADB tools installed
- Enter the sideload command
- Reboot your phone
1. Download Android 12L
To get started, you’ll first need to download the files needed to actually put Android 12L 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 12L, 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 12L Beta, only Pixel 3a/XL, Pixel 4/XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5a, and Pixel 5 are available, with the Pixel 6 series coming soon. You won’t be able to install it on the original Pixel/XL, Pixel 2/XL, or Pixel 3/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 12L Beta.
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 case something goes wrong.
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