PSA: Updating to Nougat Through the Android Beta Program Is Risky

Updating to Nougat Through the Android Beta Program Is Risky

Google just released Android 7.0 Nougat, and as usual, they're doing a staged rollout. This means that most users won't actually get the update on their Nexus devices for a few weeks—that is, unless they take matters into their own hands.

Shortly after Nougat made its debut, users discovered that enrolling in the Android Beta program seemed to shorten the wait, with many folks even getting the Android 7.0 update within minutes. And since all you need to do to join the Beta program is click a button on a website, this certainly seemed like the best way to skip the delays and get Nougat ahead of the staged rollout.

But, as it turns out, the Android Beta program method has its downsides. The update has failed for many users that went this route, while others never got the update. Some even received an update to the wrong Android version, so it's a big mess all around.

Risks with Updating Through the Android Beta Program

The trouble here is that the Android Beta program was designed for users to test beta versions of Android, not official releases like Nougat. So the first problem you might encounter is that you could be sent the latest Developer Preview of Android 7.0 instead of the final Nougat build.

If this happens, you're back at square one waiting on the official staged rollout—but now, you're stuck using potentially buggy software while you wait, because un-enrolling from the Beta program would cause you to revert back to Marshmallow and lose all of your data.

That's probably the worst-case scenario, but another issue makes the Android Beta program update method even more risky overall.

Let's say you lucked out and actually got the Android Nougat update using this method. Several users have made it this far, eagerly waiting while their phone started the update process, only to watch it fail and reboot back into Android Marshmallow.

It's possible that Google's beta update servers are having issues under the extra load caused by the influx of new Beta program members, which would explain the corrupt update files in this example. However, if the update fails to apply, that's all there is to it—no harm and no data loss, just a little wasted time.

Overall, the Beta program update method is certainly the fastest way to get Nougat, but the potential issues you might encounter make it the riskiest choice as well. If you're willing to take your chances, though, this guide will help you through the process.

For those that would prefer to use a safer method, you can sideload the official OTA update with ADB, and it only takes a few minutes of work once you've downloaded the requisite files. I've outlined that process in detail at the link below, so head on over to get a taste of Nougat on your Nexus. (If you're rooted, you'll want to use NRT or ADB and Fastboot instead.)

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover photo by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

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