This guide explains how to easily install the just announced Android P Developer Preview on your Pixel or Pixel 2. While the official release of Google’s new Android P software won’t arrive until August or September, you can try it early. You can manually install it, or join the beta program.
Android P comes with some exciting new changes that will affect your phone or your apps. Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Google’s calling this an “alpha 1 release” so it’s not stable enough for daily use. Eligible devices include the Pixel, Pixel XL, or Google’s new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Google didn’t release software for any Nexus devices. The 2nd beta is open to 11 different phones.
The Android P System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android P on your Pixel device. This is essentially everything you need to know, and what you’d download as an OTA update for regular Android updates.
One of the biggest changes in Android P is display cutout support. Basically, Google supporting the iPhone X-style notch we’re seeing in a lot of Android devices. There are also major changes to Google Assistant, notifications, smarter message notifications, battery life, easier software updates, and improved security. Even at the app level security is more robust. We don’t know too much yet but expect more features to debut throughout the year as the release nears.
Before we start it’s worth noting that this is not official software that average users should install to their daily devices. This is an extremely early developer preview (beta) of Android P for testing purposes only. It’s not fully stable or functional according to Google. We’ve already installed it ourselves and it’s working great, but proceed with caution.
This guide will show you how to install the latest Pixel Android P Developer Preview software. This is something you can do from Windows, Mac, Linux or ChromeOS. There are multiple ways to do this, and lots of things that can go wrong, but below are the easiest steps without spending hours setting up all of Google’s developer software.
How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS
Before you can flash the Android P Developer Preview update to your Pixel or Pixel 2 you need to install ADB and Fastboot on your computer. This is a program that runs on your PC/Mac to connect to your Android device through a USB cable and flash Android software to a device.
Installing ADB and Fastboot is one of the most annoying parts of installing Android factory images, but several tools make it dead simple these days. Alternatively, Google has an entire guide on ADB and flashing the files.
Those running Windows can download a 15 second adb installer to simplify the process and get up and running in only a few minutes.
Download the ADB installer for Windows. Find the file, right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. When prompted you need to give the app access to run as an administrator. After the app launches type a Y and enter to select yes to Install ADB & Fastboot, to install ADB/Fastboot systemwide and to install Drivers. When a new window pops up follow the steps to install the drivers.
After this, you are now ready to install Android P on supported devices.
How to Install ADB on Mac, Linux & ChromeOS
Nexus Tools makes it easy to install ADB on a Mac, Linux or even ChromeOS. Simply open a Terminal on the computer and paste in the code from XDA. Open a terminal by going to search, and just type Terminal to open it. Then copy/paste that code to get started.
This will install ADB and Fastboot on Mac, Linux and Chrome OS without the need to do anything else. It’s extremely easy and avoids all the ADB package mess that typically takes much longer to complete.
After the script finishes type ADB or Fastboot to start running either process. This is how you start flashing files or system images provided by Google. Remember to head to settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first. Not to mention newer devices need to enable “OEM Unlock” in developer options so you can unlock the bootloader and flash the latest software. If you did this when you flashed Android O last year, you don’t need to do it again.
Manually Install Android P Today
The first thing you need to do is download the Android P factory images. A factory image is basically a file that contains everything you’d get from an over the air update. Click the links below for each device that’s in the early developer preview release, agree to the terms, and download it. Then, continue following our instructions.
As usual, only select devices are included in this list right now. Those being the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. These are the first factory images, and we’ll update with the second “beta” files soon. Click the links below to download Android P and get started today.
- Google Pixel Android P Image
- Pixel XL Android P Image
- Google Pixel 2 Android P Image
- Pixel 2 XL Android P Image
Download the file and then keep reading to get Android P. Now, you need to unzip these files to a folder you can easily access. We unzipped it to our MAC desktop. After you have the Android P system image unzipped you need to find it. Then type cmd into the address bar on Windows, or open a terminal and direct it to this new folder on Mac, Linux or Chrome OS. Reminder, if you’re on a MAC you need to make sure terminal is running inside the folder you just unzipped. Right-click, open Terminal at Folder.
If your Pixel is not bootloader unlocked you should do that first. We could not install Android P on a locked device. This will wipe it out completely and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. Repeat, this will erase everything! If you installed any prior betas, you already did this, so skip it.
Open a Terminal in the adb folder and type the command below then hit enter.
adb reboot bootloader
In Fastboot type:
fastboot oem unlock
Then hit enter. Follow the on-screen instructions and choose to erase the device. Wait a minute or so for it to unlock. This removes everything on your device. If you don’t want to wipe out your phone, wait for the second Android P developer preview, as an easy update beta program will likely arrive with it.
Google Pixel users will need to use “fastboot devices” and then “fastboot flashing unlock” to unlock the bootloader. Then proceed to reboot and follow our steps.
Flash the Android P Image
Next, open the folder containing the unzipped Android P System Image file you just downloaded from our instructions above. Type cmd in the address bar. Then, type the multiple commands posted below and hit enter. Or copy and paste them to avoid making mistakes. On a Mac, you can open Terminal in the folder by enabling terminal shortcuts in settings. This is key for Mac users. Head to System Preferences and select Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Find “New Terminal at Folder” in the settings and click the box. Now when you’re in Finder, just right-click a folder and you’re shown the option to open Terminal. Or just do it from the desktop where you unzipped the Factory image as shown below.
Once in the terminal simply copy and paste the commands below to install the Android P Preview to your Pixel or Pixel 2. The first line is the command for Windows, then Mac second.
This will flash all the needed files. If you are on a Mac or other computer you will need to type;
This will push all the files and update your device to the new Android P software. The files will start sending and installing and your device may reboot. The logo boot screen may stay for a long time. Do not unplug the device. This may last 10 minutes or longer the first time. When Android prompts you to complete setup you can unplug your Pixel. It took less than four minutes for us.
It’s worth noting that some users may experience a “mke2fs failed with status 1” or a similar error depending on what device you’re flashing. If you see the status 1 failure, you simply need to edit the flash_all script and remove the “-w” line at the bottom of the file. This is a step most do anyways so they don’t “wipe” out the device while flashing the latest software. For whatever reason, wiping userdata fails for some. In the factory image file you downloaded, open and edit the flash_all file and scroll to the bottom. Remove the -w as shown in red. This prevents the flash from wiping out your device, and gets around the status 1 error.
Then, another error “missing system.img” might surface, causing the install to fail. This is because the way you’re trying to flash the update. Instructions on how to get around this are right here. Essentially users will need to unzip the update.zip folder and move all the images to the original folder we mentioned above. Then manually flash them one by one, vs the flash-all command we’re using here. Only do this if you run into issues with missing images. It takes a few more steps but works all the same. It flashed just fine on my Pixel XL using a Mac.
When the process finishes you can enter your information or Gmail account and start using and testing Android P months in advance.
If you don’t want to delete your entire device, don’t manually install Android P per our instructions above. Instead, try the Android Beta Program with OTA (over-the-air) updates. You can easily opt-in and try it on a Pixel or Pixel 2. That’s a lot easier for most users, and the safest route. If you’re not experienced with ADB, we recommend skipping the Android P Developer Preview for now or try the beta.
Additionally, those who choose to wait for the OTA beta update do not need to wipe out their device. It installs right over Android 8.1 and keeps all user data. Drop a comment below if you have any questions, problems, or concerns. Otherwise, dig through Android P and let us know how you like it.