You can get Android Nougat now on your Google-powered phone and tablet, even though the official launch isn’t for a couple more weeks, according to search engine company.
That’s good news because Android is the most popular operating system in the world, installed on over a billion active devices, from smartphones and tablets to smart appliances such as TVs and fridges.
At the Google IO 2016 event, Google announced that you can now sign up your device for the Android 7.0 N Beta Quality Release Candidate. To sign up go to the Android Beta website and select “Enroll device.” You’ll need to have a newer Google Nexus device or a Sony Xperia Z3 phone to make use of this beta version, however.
The current version of Android, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, hasn’t even been out a year, and many Android owners are still waiting for it to become available for their devices. That hasn’t stopped Google working on its follow-up, although Android 7.0 Nougat is still in its early stages.
But, even though it’s still early days for Android 7.0 Nougat, you can still download and install it right now – although there are some caveats.
First, this is an early developer preview, which means it’s not intended for regular smartphone owners, but rather app developers who want to make sure their products work with Android 7.0 Nougat. So although you can expect some of the latest features of Android 7.0 Nougat to work, such as bundled notifications and multi-window support, you should expect some bugs and errors as well.
If you want – or need – an Android device that works smoothly and reliably, then you should wait for the final release of Android 7.0 Nougat, which will be “later this summer,” promises Google.
The second important thing to remember about this early version of Android 7.0 Nougat is that it will currently only work with certain devices – such as Google’s Pixel C tablet or a newer Nexus device: the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus Player or Nexus 9.
Sony has also announced that you can try out Android 7.0 Nougat on its Xperia Z3 smartphone, but it hasn’t yet announced when Android Nougat will be available for newer Xperia devices.
What to do before you download and install Android 7.0 Nougat
If you’ve got a Pixel C, a recent Nexus device, or a compatible version of the Xperia Z3 and you’re certain you want to give this early version of Android 7.0 Nougat a try, then there are a few things you should do before you download and install it.
First of all, you should make sure you backup your device before you begin. The Android 7.0 Nougat Developer Preview ihas bugs in it, so if it doesn’t work, or if Android 7.0 Nougat just isn’t for you, having a backup will enable you to revert back to your previous version of Android quickly and easily.
Ensure that your device’s built-in backup feature is enabled – to do this go to Settings > Backup & reset and make sure both ‘Backup my data’ and ‘Automatic restore’ are checked.
You can also backup your photos by plugging your Android device into a PC via USB, and then view the phone in Windows or Mac OS X , browse to the DCIM folder and copy it over.
To make sure absolutely everything is backed up, check out our comprehensive guide to backing up your Android device.
How to download Android 7.0 Nougat on a Nexus device
With your Android device backed up you can now download Android 7.0 N. Head over to the Android Nougat Developer Preview web page for all the information about Android 7.0 Nougat developer preview.
This page shows you an overview of the various stages of the preview, giving you a good idea of what sorts of features and functionality you’ll be getting, and when.
With Android 7.0 Nougat it’s now easier than ever to get the developer preview on your compatible device via the Android Beta Program. Go to the Android Beta Program website, and sign in using your Google account.
Once you’re signed in you’ll see your eligible devices listed. To enrol a device in the beta program click the ‘Enroll Device’ button. Once your device is enrolled you’ll get over-the-air updates to Android 7.0 Nougat, just as you would with regular OS updates.
You can also install the Android 7.0 Nougat update manually by downloading and installing the Android 7.0 system image. This is a more risky and complicated way of updating to Android 7.0 Nougat, and it also means you won’t automatically get updates. If you’re still keen on doing this, then follow Google’s instructions on how to flash your Nexus device.
Going back to an earlier version of Android
If you want to switch back to an earlier version of Android, then return to the Android Beta Program website and click ‘Unenroll device’. An update will then appear on your smartphone or tablet, which when downloaded and installed will uninstall Android 7.0 Nougat and reinstall the latest stable public version of Android.
Be warned though: this will also wipe any user data from your device, so again make sure you backup your device first.