Google has now released the first developer preview of Android 12, but the company’s usual beta program is not available. However, this is not totally unusual given how the beta program works and is not an indication that it won’t eventually be available as an option to download the latest version of Android.
Each year, Google releases a new version of Android and with 12, there are already indications it will be a decent upgrade for users. However, accessing the latest version of Android can be a complicated process and especially during the early stages. Unlike Apple, which makes it super easy for anyone with a compatible iPhone to download the latest iOS version, Android is a lot more splintered due to the number of phone-makers involved.
Android 12 is now available as a first developer preview. As the name suggests, this is a very early version of the mobile operating system and one that’s primarily released with app developers in mind. Due to this, it is not a version that the average Android user is advised to download and that’s also one of the reasons why the Android 12 Beta Program is currently unavailable.
The Android Beta Program is a great option for anyone wanting to try the latest version of Android before it is properly released. What makes it so useful is how easy it is to install on a compatible device. For example, the current developer preview requires some knowledge of how Android works and a general understanding of how to “flash” a device system image to a device. In contrast, the Beta Program works in much the same way as how Android software updates are delivered in general. Users simply enroll in the program and Google will push the latest version of Android 12 to the enrolled device, without any additional knowledge or expertise needed.
In terms of when the Android 12 Beta Program will officially open, there’s currently no firm date. However, this is not uncommon at this point of the Android upgrade cycle. At this time of the year, Google typically starts making available various developer previews before eventually moving the latest version of Android out of a developer status and into beta. At which point, the Android Beta Program normally opens up to those with a compatible device. For example, the first developer preview of Android 11 launched in February of 2020 with the Android 11 Beta Program going live in June of the same year. With the first developer preview of Android 12 having gone live now (also in February), a similar time-frame for the Android 12 Beta Program should be expected, with it likely to arrive around the time Google I/O 2021 takes place.
Source: Android Developers