From the Desk of the Editor: What’s the deal with so many Android betas

From the Desk of the Editor: What's the deal with so many Android betas

There’s Android 12L, which was pitched as an update mainly for big screens but also recently rolled out to some Pixel phones as the “March Feature Drop”.And now there’s the new Android 12 QPR3, which stands for Quarterly Platform Release 3 and is available to test through the Android beta program ahead of its launch in June alongside the next Google Pixel “Feature Drop.”

Android 12 QPR 3 Beta 1 is the latest version of Android 12, following the recent release of Android 12L on certain Pixel devices earlier this month. You’re not alone if you’re a little perplexed. Right now, there appears to be an alphabet soup of numerous Android 12 variants to pick from, especially when it comes to beta and pre-release editions. First and foremost, there’s Android 12, which was introduced in October and has been gradually spreading out to various phones over the previous several months.

Highlights

  • “QPR3” also implies the existence of earlier Quarterly Platform Releases — so if this latest beta build really is the third QPR for Android 12 then what happened to the first two? And is this “QPR” continuation of Android 12L or is it a separate branch of Android 12? From branding, it’s not at all clear. Google (sorta) explains what’s going on in this statement on its official developer site:

  • In any of those cases, though, if you look under System > About phone on any device running either baseline Android 12 or 12L, or even the new Android 12 QPR3 — you’ll just see “Android 12.” Google doesn’t offer any detail about which precise flavor of Android 12 you’re running. The problem here doesn’t really have to do with the software itself but the opaqueness of the branding surrounding it. Given the messaging from Google, a lot of people might assume Android 12L is just for tablets and foldables — a separate branch of Android for these devices similar to the old tablet-exclusive Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

 

“Following the stable release of Android 12 to AOSP, we continue to update the platform with fixes and improvements that are then rolled out to supported devices. These releases happen on a quarterly cadence through Quarterly Platform Releases (QPRs), which are delivered to AOSP and to Google Pixel devices as part of Feature Drops.”