Available for users enrolled in the Android Beta Program, the next release is, according to Google’s blog description, “an incremental maintenance release focused on refinements, so it includes a number of bug fixes and optimizations, along with a small number of enhancements for carriers and users.” That means you probably won’t see any differences in your day-to-day use, unless you were consistently bothered by a particular bug.
However, if you happen to own a Nexus 6 or Nexus 9, you’re out of luck. Not only is the device unable to install the beta, Google says that the general release of 7.1.2, which is expected to land in a couple of months, will be available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C devices. Notably excluded from that list are 2014’s Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, 2014 devices released by Motorola and HTC, respectively, that were on board with the previous Nougat updates. While Google doesn’t specifically say they will be excluded from future releases, it would appear that they have reached the end of the line for updates.
The 7.1.2 public beta is available through the Android Beta Program, which you can sign up for at android.com/beta with a Google account and one of the supported phones. If you’ve already enrolled in the program, your phone will receive the update within the next few days, according to Google. To check to see if an update is available, you can go to the About tab in Settings and tap on System updates.
What this means for my Nexus 6 or 9: While it may be sooner than expected, it was pretty inevitable that Google would stop supporting the 2014 Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices sometime this year. When Google announced its updated security efforts for Nexus devices ahead of Marshmallow’s release in 2015, it vowed they would “continue to receive major updates for at least two years.” More importantly, it will continue to deliver security patches “for the longer of three years from initial availability or 18 months from last sale of the device via the Google Store.” So you don’t need to toss them in the recycle bin just yet.