The Android beta program was first introduced by Google, the maker of Android, with the purpose to eliminate bugs and absorb feedback of which can be used to improve software for its final release. Beta programs used to be limited to very few people, typically a randomly generated sample of testers, but not any more.
Nowadays, we have open beta programs, which allow anyone with a certain device to opt in for early release updates. These early release updates known as builds become more stable over time, and can be installed in different ways. Nowadays, many Android manufacturers use open beta programs to prepare Android software releases for a public roll out. Suppose your brand introduces an open beta program for your device, will you enroll?
The Android open beta program started with Google, who introduces early bird platform updates for Pixel and select Nexus customers over the course of the year. The latest was Android 8.1 Oreo, which has now rolled out publicly to most Google-branded handsets. However, other Android manufacturers such as Essential, OnePlus and a handful of others, have initiated open beta programs of their own as they prepare Google’s Oreo update. We know how frustrating it can be and how long it can take for updates to arrive on third-party Android devices, but this whole beta process allows manufacturers to work on new software before it reaches our hands. It also helps with security and performance, making sure our devices run software smoothly before it’s administered out to thousands of buyers across the globe.
There are, however, some precautions device owners must be aware of before opting into an Android beta program of any kind. First off, depending on how the update is loaded, your phone may be wiped clean of all content, which is why we inform you to back up everything before heading into this process. Since these are unofficial previews of software meant for early testing and taking in feedback, you should expect issues. Despite gaining access to unreleased features which is sometimes cool and gives you peace of mind from waiting in line, which can take time, the very definition of beta software is software that’s not ready for prime time. In other words, you should expect a slow down in performance, reduced battery life, and spontaneous issues as a result, which is why manufacturers and carriers never recommend enrolling on the device you rely on for every day use. In some cases, multiple builds are released prior to the public OTA, which flee more and more bugs with each version.
Open beta programs typically come out for new devices. Meaning, unless you have a phone that released in the last two years, odds are you’ll never hear about a beta program for your device. But for early adopters, early upgraders and those who constantly fiddle with software like us at Droid Turf, this is common territory and sometimes worth the temporary sacrifice of performance. This week, OnePlus announced beta updates for the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T, and there’s still time to enroll in the program if you’re interested. Essential came out with a third preview build for Essential PH-1 in January, and recently confirmed that its next build will be the official Android 8.1 update.
This brings us to our poll of the week. Have you ever been given the opportunity to enroll in any kind of beta program as an Android device owner? For those of you who have, did you enroll? If so, why? And for the rest of you, if given one, would you enroll or wait for the public release? Drop a comment letting us know and be sure to vote in our weekly poll down below. The poll will remain open all week and we look forward to hearing your response.
Shall you want to learn more about Android updates, hit up our Droid Updates Series that runs weekly, where we provide a roundup of all the updated devices each week.
Below are the major stories from this week.