Google is still months away from releasing Android P, but the developer preview program offers a taste of what the next version has to offer right now. After launching a second developer preview during the I/O conference in May, Google has just dropped the third preview build of Android P. You can try it right now on select devices, but don’t expect substantial changes.
This is the third developer preview, but the second “beta.” Yes, Google has a strange way of describing its preview program. The new preview has few user-facing changes. Although, the settings finally refer to the OS as “Android 9” instead of Android P. Everyone expected that would be the version number, so no surprises there. Google also has updated emoji and some tweaks to permissions aimed at protecting user privacy.
The latest developer preview is perhaps most notable for how much hasn’t changed. At I/O, Google talked about multiple Android P features digital wellness and AI-powered battery optimization. Those features were not included in the preview that had just launched that day. However, those features still aren’t in the third preview, either. Google has at least smoothed over some of the rough edges from the last release, which was very buggy even for a developer preview.
With DP2, Google expanded availability of the preview to devices from companies like OnePlus, Essential, and more. The new preview will come to all those phones eventually, but for now it is only available on the first and second-generation Pixel phones. There are two ways to install the developer preview. If you have unlocked the bootloader on your phone, you can get the system images right now. These files require a computer running the Android dev tools and a USB cable to connect the phone.
Since the third dev preview is also part of the Android beta program, you can sign up your eligible device to receive the new version as an OTA update. You don’t need to unlock the bootloader and manually flash the software this way, but the OTA update isn’t rolling out quite yet. It should be live in the next day or so.
Google still has one more developer preview on the agenda before the final release. The fourth preview should be feature-complete, so all that fancy stuff Google announced at I/O will be live in that version. We may also get some hints at what Google has in store for the next Pixel phones in that version.
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