Google shocked the world earlier this week when they announced a very early developer preview for Android N. While this isn’t the first time they’ve offered early software builds for the next big version of Android – they released early previews for both Lollipop and Marshmallow in 2014 and 2015, respectively – this is the earliest they’ve ever done so in a calendar year. The company’s big developer conference, Google I/O, is still two months away, but there’s already plenty of new tweaks and features to take a look at before the big event takes place.
Perhaps what’s even more surprising is just how easy Google made it for both developers and everyday users to take a peek at the latest OS version. While they’ve included the normal factory images that can be flashed to a device via adb and fastboot commands, they’ve taken things a step further with the introduction of the Android Beta Program. Developers and enthusiasts can easily install the new software by enrolling their device on the Beta website, after which they’ll receive a direct OTA link to download and install the preview on whatever device(s) they’ve enrolled. As with the earlier Lollipop and Marshmallow previews, only a select number of devices are currently eligible for enrollment.
The original list of supported devices included the Nexus 6, 6P, 5X, 9, Nexus Player, and Pixel C, but Google recently added support for an Android One handset: the General Mobile 4G. It’s the first Android One device to ever receive support for a public developer preview, and it’s a pretty important move by Google. The company started the Android One program with the hope of bringing affordable stock Android devices to developing markets. With the inclusion of the General Mobile 4G in the developer preview, Android One developers now have the opportunity to prepare their apps for the upcoming software.
If you happen to have a General Mobile 4G handset, and you’re brave enough to install the N Preview for yourself, you can enroll your device at the Android Beta Program page. Be warned: the N Preview is in the very early stages of development, and the current software builds are riddled with bugs. These previews aren’t anywhere close to daily driver material, and Google even posted a list of known issues for the developer builds while strongly advising users against installing and using the preview as daily software.