It feels as though we've only just started to enjoy Android 10 in all its glory and yet those curious can already sample what its successor, Android 11, has in store.
There are (as often with developer previews and beta releases) caveats to getting your hands on Android 11 in its current state, and doing so isn't without risk.
For the time being, the Android 11 developer preview 2 is only available to those sporting a Pixel 2 or newer. Unlike last year's Android 10 beta, in its current state, only Google's own smartphone line is supported. This might change as subsequent preview releases arrive but right now you need one of the eight devices listed below to participate.
How to download Android 11
If you're happy with all the details (check our FAQ below before you pull the trigger) then here's how to download Android 11 on your phone. Note that subsequent betas will be easier to install but at this early stage, the preview release for your chosen device has to be manually flashed in order to run.
- Back up your phone – Settings > System > Backup
- Enable Developer Options on your Pixel by heading to Settings > About phone > tap your build number seven times to activate developer mode
- Enable USB Debugging by going to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer Options > Turn 'USB Debugging' on
- If you haven't already, install the Android SDK Platform-Tools for your chosen operating system (Windows, MacOS or Linux) in order to gain access to the 'fastboot' utility
- Download the Android 11 system image for your chosen device and unzip it in a safe directory
- Connect your device to your computer via USB
- The downloaded image will contain a file called 'flash-all.sh' ('flash-all.bat' on Windows). Make sure to add the fastboot tool to your PATH environment variable so that the 'flash-all' script can find it.
- Start your device in fastboot mode by using the adb tool. Execute 'adb reboot bootloader'
- Turn the device off, then turn it on and immediately hold down the relevant key combination for your device
- If needed, unlock the device's bootloader by using: fastboot flashing unlock
- Your Pixel will show a confirmation screen. (This also erases all data on the device)
- Execute the '
flash-allscript'. This installs the appropriate bootloader, baseband firmware(s) and Android 11
- Your device will then restart. Boot it into fastboot mode again and lock your bootloader using the 'fastboot flashing lock' command
What phones can get Android 11?
At this stage you'll only be able to get Android 11 if you have a Pixel smartphone. This is the first major Android release that excludes the original Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, while also folding the mid-range Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL into the roster too. The full list of compatible devices is below:
- Pixel 2
- Pixel 2 XL
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3a XL
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 4 XL
Is this the final version of Android 11?
No, quite the opposite. Google's developer site is clear to highlight in bold letters that this preview is "for developers only," which aside from the high likelihood of instabilities and features that aren't fully functional, does put your device at risk.
It's not recommended that you use it on your main phone unless you're happy to put up with possible issues.
Here's Google's official warning: "Because they [beta releases of Android] are not suitable for daily use by early adopters or consumers, we're making them available by manual download and flash only. To flash these builds, note that you'll need to do a full reset, so make sure to back up your data first."
"If you are not a developer but you want to try Android 11, please wait a little longer - we're expecting to open Android Beta enrollments in the next several weeks."
Google typically uses its annual developer conference in May to announce the public release, but with the news that this has now been entirely cancelled and won't continue even as an online-only event, we're not sure yet how this will affect timings.