If you have a compatible handset — a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P or Pixel C at the time of writing — you can be a part of Google’s Android Beta Program, giving you early access to the next version of Android. It isn’t just for taking a look, you can provide feedback and requests to the Android team to make sure the final Android 7.1 release is as good as it can be.
Participating in the program is easy, and it means that you will see a number of updates on your device before the final release in December 2016, but you don’t have to wait until then. Having participated in the earlier Android 7.0 Beta, I can confirm you will receive a number of updates, and it’s very satisfying seeing newer, more stable updates arrive on your device every week or two.
At this stage, the first beta is already out, so if you sign up today, you’ll be running this straight away. Preview two is scheduled to add more devices to the mix, including the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Nexus Player, and an Android One phone that you probably won’t see in Australia.
Here’s how to get on board in a few easy steps:
- Read about the Android Developer Preview program, and decide whether it’s for you or not.
- Head to the beta sign-up page, and sign in with your Google account.
- Read about the process; in short, you will receive a series of OTA (over the air) updates, to take your device from its current software to the current testing version. There are two important things to note:
- If you leave the beta, you will get an OTA to revert your device to the stable version. This will wipe your user data.
- You’ll receive OTA update notices each time there’s a new version to download.
- If you’re fine with that, hit the Enroll Device button. Read the terms of service and make sure you’re happy with them, then confirm with Join Beta.
- After a few minutes (up to an hour or so) you should receive an update notification to download your first beta OTA.
You should expect there to be some issues with the beta versions, as they are — after all — not quite ready for public consumption. However, in our experience, they are quite stable, and the issues are few and far between. Try it out, and let us know how you get on.