I have been pretty vocal during my time writing here at Chrome Unboxed about how disappointed I have been with the way Google has handled updates and feature drops for the Pixel 6 series. As a Pixel 6 owner myself, I have found it highly unfair that having the newest Google phone has placed me in the back of the line to get timely updates. Well, it seems that Google has come up with a way to let us have our cake and eat it too — with some caveats.
Yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, Google posted a new page on their developers’ site announcing the Android 12 QPR (Quarterly Platform Release) Betas, with QPR3 Beta 1 (S3B1.220218.004) being available for Pixel devices right now. This new beta will propel your Pixel device to run the latest feature drop being tested right now, which is the June 2022 iteration, and effectively bump your device ahead of those running the stable release. The QPR3 Beta 1 update is available for the below Pixel devices:
- Pixel 4 and 4XL
- Pixel 4a and 4a (5G)
- Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a
- Pixel 6 and 6 Pro
Yes, the Pixel 6 too!
Surprisingly enough, the Pixel 6 series is not being left out of this release, finally making it possible for Pixel 6 owners to get a taste of the newest feature drops. Since the QPRs are released quarterly – or every three months – this release would put your Pixel 6 ahead of the now-delayed March 2022 feature drop and skip all the way to June — if you don’t mind running Beta software, that is. I have updated my Pixel 6 to this release, and so far, I haven’t run into any issues. Fingers crossed it stays that way, but if you feel adventurous or your Pixel 6 is still suffering from that nasty WiFi bug, this could be the fix you were waiting on.
End of the line for the Pixel 3a
If you look at the list of supported devices above, you’ll notice that the Pixel 3a is missing. This checks out as the older Pixel 3a’s support expires in May, and given that this update includes the June update, I’m guessing Google has opted to leave it out. Pixel 3a devices should still get their regular monthly feature drops through May.
What features am I getting with this beta?
The release notes for QPR3 Beta 1 don’t include much info, other than the usual warnings about running Beta software and making sure you back up before proceeding. However, it stands to reason that it will consist of all the features included in the March 2022 feature drop and newer features not yet announced. We will, of course, keep an eye on that so we can report on any new features we find.
Beware if you are running Android 13 DP1
If your Pixel device is already running Android 13 DP1 (Developer Preview 1), this update isn’t for you. Make sure that you are NOT enrolled in the Android Beta for Pixel program, as this could potentially cause issues for you. Many reports are swimming around of Android 13 DP1 users getting the QPR3 update popup on their phones and proceeding with it, only to find that their phones attempted to downgrade and were subsequently forced to factory reset. This seems like an oversight on Google’s part, and we hope that they take action quickly in excluding phones running A13DP1 from getting the update notice.
How can I get this Beta update?
If your eligible Pixel device is running Stable Android 12 or Android 12L Beta, you can get this OTA update right away by enrolling your device in the Android Beta for Pixel program. Once enrolled, after a few minutes, you will be able to update by going to Settings > System > System update > Check for update, at which time you should receive a notice like the one pictured below.
Google did announce back in October 2021 that changes were coming to the Android 12 Beta Program. Still, no one imagined that Pixel phones would now be part of three different release channels: Stable, QPR betas, and Developer Preview for Android 13. It’s starting to feel a little bit like Pixel phones have become the wild west of Android releases.