Android 12 is out — so where is the Pixel update?

Google IO 2021 Android 12
(Image credit: Google)

As had been rumored, Android 12 landed today (October 4). But not all is well in paradise, with many Pixel device owners left wondering where their update is. After all, Android 12 has a huge swath of visual and privacy enhancements, so it's a pretty major release.

But Google only pushed the new version to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), promising the Pixel update "in the coming weeks." As far I can recall, this is the first time that a Pixel/Nexus phone hasn't gotten the new Android version on Day One. And that's one of the main benefits to owning a Google phone: access to the latest Android version as soon as it's available.

My guess is that Google needed more time to work on fixing bugs in the Pixel release, thus the delay. Whatever the reason, your Pixel will not get Android 12 today unless you flash AOSP yourself. And that I do not recommend for any regular user.

AOSP is meant for developers and phone makers to create their own renditions of Android. It's a very barebones experience, lacking basically every feature and refinement that makes Pixels appealing. There's no reason to install Android 12 via AOSP versus running the latest Android 12 beta. 

I'm just as confused (and disappointed) as you are. I've been excitedly checking my Pixel 5 for an update most of the day, only to have Google dash my hopes for a new update. And to be fair, this is a pretty unprecedented move for the company — I don't think anyone expected the Pixels to not get the update alongside push to open source.

The mention of "coming weeks" gives me pause, especially since that term is so nebulous. Rumors say that Google could announce the Pixel 6 as soon as October 19. There's no way that phone will launch without Android 12, so I have to figure that Google will push Android 12 to currently supported Pixels sooner than that.

Another tidbit is that Google announced an Android Dev Summit for October 27-28. That could be where we will learn about what happened with the Android 12 release. At least let's hope we don't have to wait the entire month to get our hands on the new update.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.