Earlier today, Google surprised the majority of us by taking wraps off of Android N, currently launched as an early Developer Preview. This way of releasing updates to Android isn't something new these days, Google first launched a Developer Preview for Lollipop during 2014's I/O keynote and did the same with Marshmallow the following year. This year however, Google have not only jumped the gun a little bit, but they're also changing the way that these previews are delivered to people, and the good news is that it's gotten a hell of a lot easier this year.
Debuting alongside Android N this year is the Android Beta Program, which is pretty much what it sounds like; a Beta Program that pretty much anyone can enroll in. This is because users no longer need to download the Factory Images for their Nexus devices – although this method still works and images are already available – and can get the update just as they would any other OTA update. How this works is that users will be able to head on over to the Beta Program website and – provided they're logged in with the same Google account – see which devices can receive the update to Android N. Then, their device will be given an update to Android N, and depending on when they enroll said device or devices, they will get the latest version of the Preview. Users can enroll and un-enroll whenever they like, and for the first time, they won't lose any data or anything like that.
Google puts it like this: "In most cases, you will not need to do a full reset of your data to move to Android N, but it's recommended that you back up any data you don't want to lose before enrolling the device." They also go on to mention that "At the conclusion of the Developer Preview, your enrolled devices will receive an update to the official Android N release." The final release for Android N is tentatively poised as being Summer, but whether or not that means a final release as in a Gold Master type of release or a full-on AOSP push and OTA rollout is unclear. Either way, it seems like Google is back to their old tricks of releasing Android versions much quicker after the previous one. At the time of writing, the Android Beta Program's website isn't live, but we're sure it'll be up soon.