Android is the most popular operating system in the world, installed on millions – if not billions – of devices, from smartphones and tablets to smart appliances such as TVs and fridges. So it’s always exciting when a new version is released, and Google is busy working on Android 7.0 N.
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 N is still in its early stages – we don’t even currently know what the ‘N’ stands for – although we have made a few educated guesses.
But, even though it’s still early days for Android 7.0 N, 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 N. So although you can expect some of the latest features of Android 7.0 N 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 N, which will hopefully be later this year.
The second important thing to remember about this early version of Android 7.0 N is that it will currently only work with the Pixel C tablet or a newer Nexus device: the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus Player or Nexus 9.
What to do before you download and install Android 7.0 N
If you’ve got a Pixel C or a recent Nexus device and you’re certain you want to give this early version of Android 7.0 N 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 back up your device before you begin. The Android 7.0 N developer preview is likely to have some bugs in it, so if it doesn’t work, or if Android 7.0 N 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 back-up feature is enabled – to do this go to Settings > Backup & reset and make sure both ‘Back up my data’ and ‘Automatic restore’ are checked.
You can also back up 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.
How to download Android 7.0 N
With your Android device backed up you can now download Android 7.0 N. Head over to the Android N Developer Preview web page for all the information about Android 7.0 N 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 N 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 N, just as you would with regular OS updates.
You can also install the Android 7.0 N 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 N, 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 N 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 back up your device first.