There’s a new version of Android available, but it’s probably not one you’re going to want to install. Google has released the third and final developer preview for Android 12. As with the last several versions, this build focuses on behind-the-scenes changes that will make life easier for developers. You can install it on supported devices if you want, but you might want to wait a few more weeks for the beta.
Google launched the first Android 12 preview in February, and it has followed up with an update in March and now April. The last two didn’t make any substantial changes to Android, and it’s the same this time. As this is a developer preview, Google seems focused on adding new APIs and clarifying the way apps will need to talk to the system in A12.
This time, Google is highlighting an improved app launch experience that includes automatic app splash screens that match your system theme and an API for customizing those screens. Developers will also have to request the new “exact alarms” permission for apps that need to wake up at precise times, like alarm clocks and timers. Otherwise, apps will get opted into the more battery-friendly “inexact alarms.” The rest of the changes are pretty in the weeds with changes to GPU compute, machine learning, camera APIs, and haptic feedback.
Unless you’re a developer or a giant Android nerd, there’s no reason to start using Android 12 right now. This is the final developer preview, and we’re expecting the beta to launch next month, probably at some point during the virtual I/O event. If you do want to install the DP, you’ll need a Pixel phone (Pixel 3 or newer), and a computer with ADB installed to flash the update.
If you wait a few more weeks, the Android 12 beta will make it much easier (and probably more rewarding) to check out the new version. Google supports automatic OTA updates in the beta program, so you’ll be able to opt-in your phone in a few clicks. The beta is probably also when Google will begin adding more user-facing features. Some leaks have even suggested there could be a major UI shift coming.
We won’t know for sure what Google’s got up its sleeve until the beta drops in about a month. In the meantime, you can check out the Android 12 Developer Preview by downloading the OTA file from Google’s site.