Do you own a Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or Pixel C? Did you know that you could be on the cutting-edge versions of Android? That’s right! You can install the latest, test and development releases of Android before it’s rolled out to the masses.

As of today the Android O Developer Preview 1 is being offered to the aforementioned devices. Indeed, it is also available for the Nexus Player, too.

How do you go about trying out the test releases of Android? It’s not all that hard, really. But, before you do, you should know some of the risks associated with Developer Previews.

First, the software is nowhere near completion and you should expect wonkiness or occasional problems. Moreover, the build is not optimized for battery yet and isn’t indicative of what you’ll get out of the final release. Really, it’s for developers who have apps and want to take advantage of the upcoming goods. Early adopters aren’t necessarily discouraged from taking the plunge; Google makes the software readily available.

How to get Android O Developer Preview

The main method of installing the Developer Previews is to manually flash the software image to your device. Manually flashing is useful if you need more exact control over your test environment or expect to reinstall frequently. If you’re considering dabbling in various ROMs or bouncing around from one build to another, this might be the way to go.

Caution: installing a system image on your phone removes all data from the handset. Back up your data first and proceed carefully. Worth noting, the manual route does not allow for automatic software updates.

Available System Images

Instructions

The factory image downloaded from this page includes a script that flashes the device, typically named flash-all.sh (On Windows systems, use flash-all.bat instead).

To flash a device you also need the latest fastboot tool. You can get it from one of the following sources:

Once you have the fastboot tool, add it to your PATH environment variable (the flash-all script below must be able to find it). Also be certain that you’ve set up USB access for your device.

Flash System Image

  • Download the appropriate system image for your device from, then unzip it to a safe directory.
  • Connect your device to your computer over USB.
  • Start the device in fastboot mode with one of the following methods:
    • Using the adb tool: With the device powered on, execute: adb reboot bootloader
    • Using a key combo: Turn the device off, then turn it on and immediately hold down the relevant key combination for your device. For example, to put a Nexus 5 (“hammerhead”) into fastboot mode, press and hold Volume Up + Volume Down + Power as the device begins booting up.
  • If necessary, unlock the device’s bootloader using one of the following methods:
    • If you are updating a Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P device using the hammerhead or angler builds, update your fastboot tool to the latest available version (>=23.0.1), and then run this command: fastboot flashing unlock 
    • If you are updating an older device, run this command: fastboot oem unlock
  • The target device will show you a confirmation screen. (This erases all data on the target device.)
  • Open a terminal and navigate to the unzipped system image directory.
  • Execute the flash-all script. This script installs the necessary bootloader, baseband firmware(s), and operating system.

Once the script finishes, your device reboots. You should now lock the bootloader for security:

  • Start the device in fastboot mode again, as described above.
  • Execute: fastboot flashing lock
    • or, for older devices, run: fastboot oem lock

Locking bootloader will wipe the data on some devices. After locking the bootloader, if you want to flash the device again, you must run fastboot oem unlock again, which will wipe the data.

More Help

Google has excellent documentation to help guide you through the process of flashing software builds to the various Pixel and Nexus models.