ADT-3 bootloader cannot be unlocked for Android 12 preview

Way ahead of anyone expected, Google introduced the first preview for Android TV 12 last week alongside versions for smartphones and tablets. However, it is frustrating that a glitch is preventing developers from updating prerelease versions of Android 12 to ADT-3.

Android TV generally lags far behind smartphones when it comes to major platform launches. For example, the new Chromecast with Google TV ships with Android 10, and Android 11 has never shipped to any retail Android TV devices outside of Google’s developer device. So it was a surprise to see Android 12 available for TVs so fast, but it is a great sign of the company’s commitment to the new Google TV platform.

However, the problem is that many developers currently have no way to access Android TV 12 on ADT-3, the only device that is currently supported to update the update.

Apparently the latest version of Android 11 available for ADT-3 breaks the ability to allow OEM unlocking on the device. Hidden in the developer options, the OEM unlock switch allows users to unlock the ADT-3 bootloader from a computer using the adb / fastboot commands. Without that lever engaged, the quick start quick unlock command returns error FAILED (remote: ‘unlock_ability is 0, cannot be unlocked’) and it does not unlock the bootloader of an ADT-3. The problem has already appeared in the Google Issue Tracker.

ADT-3 is currently the only way to test Android TV 12

In theory, developers with an ADT-3 that is on an older version of Android or who already have an unlocked bootloader should be able to install Android 12 previews, but we can’t verify that since, well, we can’t unlock the bootloader on our own ADT-3 unit.

Askey, the company that makes and sells ADT-3 for Google, confirmed the problem in an email, saying the company is working with Google on the issue. Currently, the company’s suggestion to get Android 12 on ADT-3 is to wait for Google to release the final version. It is not ideal, obviously.

Google tells us that they are aware of the problem and are currently working to fix it.

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