Google has released the first Developer Preview for Android 12 and a lot of people are anxious to try it out. While it is not considered safe for daily use, if you have a spare Pixel laying around, you can use that to see what’s new. We’re still a long way out from the final release, but these previews and later betas can tide us over.

We’ll show you how to get going with Android 12, granted that you know the risks before heading in. You’ll need a few things to get started, including a PC or Mac, Pixel 3/3XL and above, and a USB-C cable.

  • Android 12: Everything we know so far
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  • Plus:Android 12 Developer Preview is live — here’s the biggest new features

The hard part with setting up Android 12 is getting everything set up and ready to go. Installing the Developer Preview is easy and involves a simple command. You will be in your command prompt, PowerShell, or Terminal depending on your computer.

Set up ADB

Before you can even get started, you’ll need to make sure that your computer is set up and ready to work with Android. We’ll provide Windows and Mac instructions — Linux is a much easier process and depends on your distro.

First, make sure that your Pixel is set up to receive ADB commands. Head into Settings, then go into About Phone. Find the Build Number section, then tap it 7 times. You’ll see a toast notification that you’ve activated Developer Options. Back up and head into System, then tap Advanced, then you’ll see Developer Options near the bottom. Open that. Scroll down a bit until you see USB debugging. Toggle that on and tap okay.

Windows: Simply download the Android SDK platform tools zip file from Google, which you can grab here. Unzip the file you just downloaded to a location of your choice. Once it's unzipped, head to the new folder where you extracted the platform-tools folder. You’ll see a bunch of stuff there, including ADB and Fastboot. From here, hold SHIFT and right click on an empty space to bring up the context menu.

You’ll either see ‘Open a command window here’ or ‘Open PowerShell window here.’ Either is fine, it might just depend on your computer. Once the command prompt or PowerShell window is open, you’ll be ready to issue ADB commands. To ensure that you’re ready for the steps below, go ahead and connect your phone to your computer. Once it’s connected, type adb devices if you’re in command prompt; type ./adb devices if you’re in PowerShell.

You’ll get a notification on your Pixel asking to confirm that you want to authorize your PC. Tap OK and enter the adb command again. You should now see the ID key for your Pixel.

Mac: Grab the Android SDK platform tools zip file from Google, which you can grab here. Unzip the file to a location of your choice, preferably somewhere easy to get to. Open your Terminal and navigate to where you extracted the platform-tools folder by using cd /path/to/folder.

This is why we recommend extracting the file to somewhere you can get to easily, since it makes typing the directory location easier. Once you’re there, you’re ready to go. To ensure that you’re ready for the steps below, go ahead and connect your phone to your computer. Once it’s connected, type ./adb devices.

You’ll get a notification on your Pixel asking to confirm that you want to authorize your Mac. Tap OK and enter the adb command again. You should now see the ID key for your Pixel.

Get the Android 12 Developer Preview

Before you can see what’s new with Android 12, you need to install the preview manually first. While Google will enable an opt-in OTA later in Android 12’s development cycle, the company has made the first preview a manual download/install only.

We’ll be detailing sideloading the OTA file over ADB here, which doesn’t require wiping your device to “upgrade.” Head over to the Android developer site and select your Pixel from the list of supported devices. Accept the terms and conditions, after which the OTA file will download. Do not unzip the file.

Boot into Recovery Mode

To flash the OTA file, you’ll need to reboot your device into Recovery Mode. There are a couple of steps to this. First, power off your Pixel, then press and hold Power and Volume Down at the same time. Keep both pressed until you see the bootloader page.

Use the volume buttons to scroll down until you see Recovery Mode highlighted. Press the Power button to select. You can also use the command adb reboot recovery from your PC command prompt or ./adb reboot recovery from your Mac, Windows PowerShell, or Linux terminal.

Your Pixel will reboot and you will see an Android robot on its back with a red exclamation mark. This is normal, so don’t panic. Press and hold Power and Volume Up at the same time and hold them for about a second or so. Release the Volume Up only and then you’ll be let into the recovery menu.

Flash using ADB sideload

Remember the Developer Preview zip file from earlier? It’s time to go grab that and copy into the platform-tools folder where you have the ADB and Fastboot executables. This is because we’re going to be telling the ADB sideload command where the file is in order for it to flash the Developer Preview to the Pixel.

Once the zip file is copied over, plug in your Pixel via a USB cable if you haven’t already and head back to your command window. Now that your Pixel is connected and in Recovery Mode, use the volume buttons to scroll down to Apply update from ADB and use Power to select.

Here’s the important part. Use the command adb sideload and the filename (or ./adb sideload filename) for your Developer Preview. There are two tricks to keep you from typing out that whole big file name. Either start with the first letter, then hit TAB on your keyboard and it should autofill. Or, you can rename the file to something simple, like ‘update.zip’ (without the quotes) to make typing it out that much easier.

Regardless, if all has gone well, ADB should serve up the Developer Preview file to your device. It might take a few minutes to finish, so be patient. Once it’s done, you need to reboot from the main Recovery Mode menu. Use Power to select Reboot now. Your Pixel will boot into the Android 12 Developer Preview. Huzzah!

  • More:Android 12 just reinvented picture-in-picture on phones

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