Android P is finally here. The latest version of Android might not be ready for public release, but you can already download and install it on your phone. Google announced the major upgrade along with a preview program for its Pixel and Pixel 2. And that means you're able to take Android P for a spin many months before anyone else. We're telling you how to make that happen.

Just remember that it's a preview program intended for developers, not consumers. While many features are unfinished, Android P Developer Preview 1 also includes a significant number of bugs. As the preview program progresses, it'll all get better.

Manual download and flash

As complex as it is, Google still allows everyone to download system images and flash them to a device. It's the longtime method used by developers and other tech-savvy folks.

You simply download the Developer Preview 1 system image from the Android Developers site and flash it to your phone.

Getting the file is easy, but actually moving it over to your Android device gets tricky. The instructions for flashing cover unlocking the bootloader, entering phrases into the command line, and putting your phone in fastboot mode.

The process isn't exactly the easiest if you've never done something similar. That's why we highly recommend the vast majority of our readers avoid manually downloading and flashing Android P. You're much better off going with our second method or just waiting until its official release date in the second half of 2018. Bricking your phone is a possibility, and doing so voids its warranty. No one wants to be stuck with a bricked phone.

If you decide to roll the dice and move forward with this method, be prepared for all user data to be removed during installation. The same happens when you want to return to a stable version of Android. With that said, do a backup and we'll wish you well.

Android Beta Program

Over the years, it's become incredibly easy to test new releases on Android devices as long as you have Google-branded hardware. The company launched the Android Beta Program in 2016 as a direct way to enroll in its preview program.

All you do is visit the dedicated site, register your device, and grab an over-the-air update. Shortly after, you're on Android P and seeing what's next for the platform.

Here's how to get Android P right now:

  1. Go to the Android Beta Program site from any device
  2. Log into your Google account, and read the Android Beta Program's description
  3. Find your phone listed in the "Your eligible devices"
  4. Hit "Enroll device"
  5. Within a few minutes, Google will push a software update to your phone

Disclaimer: Android P is not yet available on the Android Beta Program, but it should arrive sometime soon.

The only requirement is having a Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, or Pixel XL. Devices like the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C are no longer supported beyond security improvements. So you'll need one of Google's more recent flagships to start tasting Android P now and even later this year.

It should be noted that, if you plan on reverting back to Android Oreo, all user data on the device will be wiped. Google doesn't allow anything to remain; therefore, please make sure anything important is backed up on an external device or in the cloud. Seriously, losing data permanently isn't worth the fun of trying a beta build.

Those of you without one of Google's last two flagships will have to wait for your phone or tablet's manufacturer to roll out the software update near the end of the year. It's more likely, however, that Android P hits other devices throughout 2019. Google is working on streamlining software updates, but ultimately it's up to partners to get active and fix Android's fragmentation problem that doesn't seem to be going away on its own.