Android 12 Developer Preview
The first Developer Preview release of Android 12 was released on February 18, 2021, and began rolling out on February 18, 2021. Following that, Google released a minor patch that fixes a number of bugs and issues that users had when using the first Developer Preview version. On March 17, 2021, Android 12 Developer Preview 2 became available.
The Developer Preview for Android 11 started in February 2020, a few weeks before the official release in March, giving developers more time to adjust their apps to the latest platform behaviors and APIs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t fully died down in many parts of the world, Google is taking a more cautious approach this year.
The Android 12 Developer Previews, as their name suggests, will enable developers to begin the platform migration and adaptation process for their apps. In order to remind the entire Android community of what’s coming, Google is expected to detail most of the big platform updates in the previews.
Developer Previews are notoriously unreliable, and they’re not meant for everyday usage. At this point, Google still reserves the right to add or delete features, so don’t be surprised if a feature from the first Developer Preview is absent from subsequent updates. Developer Previews are also limited to Pixel devices, but you can check them out on other phones by sideloading a GSI if one is available.
Android 12 Beta
We’ll move on to Android 12 Beta releases after a couple of Developer Preview releases, with the first one scheduled in May of this year. These releases will be a little more polished, and they’ll give us a good idea of how the final OS will look. Minor releases can occur in between Betas, primarily to address any critical bugs.
We’ll start seeing releases for devices that aren’t part of the Google Pixel lineup around this time. OEMs will begin transitioning their UX skins to the Android 12 Beta edition, as well as recruiting for their own “Preview” programs. These releases, however, could be a version or two behind those available on the Google Pixel. Since these preview programs are likely to contain bugs, they are only recommended for developers and advanced users.
Android 12 Beta with Platform Stability
Android 12 will reach Platform Stability status, which will coexist with the Beta status, after around three beta launches. This is anticipated to occur in August of this year. Platform Stability refers to the completion of the Android 12 SDK, NDK APIs, app-facing surfaces, platform actions, and even non-SDK interface constraints. In the following betas, there will be no further updates to how Android 12 behaves or how APIs function. Developers can now begin upgrading their apps to target Android 12 (API Level 31) without fear of sudden changes breaking their apps’ functionality.
Android 12 Release Candidate
We’ll get our Android 12 Release Candidate build after a Platform Stability build. This build will be as similar to the stable build as possible, but it will not be identical to it. Before the build is rolled out to customers, this build would effectively be aimed at catching any crucial issues that have gone undetected so far. Google has not stated when these builds will be out, but we can expect one in September.
Android 12 Stable
Google will release the first stable version of this Android after the Release Candidate builds are completed. This is predicted to happen in September, if not sooner. Google’s Pixel devices are likely to be the first to receive the stable updates, as is the case.
We anticipate broader public betas for non-Pixel phones at this time. The exact timeframe will be determined by your phone and the OEM’s plans. A good rule of thumb is that flagship phones will get the update first, so if you have a phone in the lower price range, you can plan to get the update a few weeks or months later.
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