Android 4.3: How to Skip the Line and Get the Update Now on Nexus Devices

Android 4.3: How to Skip the Line and Get the Update Now on Nexus Devices

Jul 29, 2013

So, Android 4.3 is out now, and it’s rolling out to Nexus users slowly but surely. I have it on my Nexus 4, and here’s what’s new about it: virtually nothing that I use on a daily basis! The camera interface is different, some people might use the autocomplete and emoji features, sure, but if this is had been Android 4.2.3 instead of 4.3, it would have made sense. Even things like the much-ballyhooed battery life improvements may be hit or miss for some users. Over a 12-hour period, an unused Nexus 4 went from 98% to 85% on background processes alone, though background streaming with Falcon Pro may have been the culprit there. Though, it did feel like the drain was at least slower, but still, it isn’t a dramatic improvement.

For those Nexus users who don’t want to wait for the update to roll out despite the relative inconsequentiality of it, or to call me bad names for my opinion, then here’s a guide to installing it without losing data, if you are on a stock and unrooted device. If you’ve unlocked a bootloader or rooted or installed a custom ROM, turn away. There be monsters here. This is for the unadventurous who suddenly have some bravery (or impatience) and aren’t afraid of a little exploration in the command line.

Step 1: Get the Android SDK

You need the programs adb and possibly fastboot to do this if something goes wrong. The best guaranteed way to get them is to install the Android SDK. This is available on multiple platforms and contains the files we’ll need. If you have Windows, this file from the XDA-Developers forum contains all you need.

Step 2: Get the zip file that you need

There are special zip files for the OTA updates available form Google’s servers. The XDA-Developers forum has compiled the links. Go there to get them, check to make sure you’re getting the right OTA update file, download it, and come back here.

Nexus 4
Nexus 7
Nexus 10
Galaxy Nexus (be very careful about which one you get here)

Step 3: Copy the update zip to the folder with adb and rename it to update.zip

Go into the SDK and find where the adb executable is, most likely in the /tools subdirectory. Copy the update zip you had into this folder. Rename it to something simple like update.zip – that long file name might be hard to type out!

Step 4: Charge your device to at least 80% and plug it in to your computer

We don’t want it dying on you while flashing an update, do we? For best results, plug your device directly to your computer’s USB port, not through a USB hub, if possible.

Step 5: Navigate to the folder with adb and the update.zip in a command line terminal

That would be running cmd on Windows, or in Terminal on Mac. Linux users – y’all ought to know, you use Linux. If you don’t know about command line, turn away and wait for the update.

AndroidNexusRecovery

Now, type in adb devices and hit enter. You should see your device. If not, you may need to install drivers. If you’re ready, type and enter adb reboot recovery. This will reboot your device to the bootloader. You should see Andru, the Android mascot, laying down. Hold down power and hit volume up. Use the volume keys to navigate, and select apply update from adb. First, on your computer, do adb devices again to make sure it’s connected. Then type and enter adb sideload update.zip and the update will transfer to your Nexus. Let the process continue untouched until your device reboots, and congrats, you have Android 4.3!

If you do manage to mess up your device, Google your device’s name and how to unbrick it. Android Police has a good guide for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7. Recovery mode is there for a reason! If the thought of this scares you, don’t worry – you’ll get the update soon!

Thanks to the XDA-Developers forums, Android Police, and Droid-Life for their guides: I wanted to make it available in a clear and concise form for readers.

Google Announces a New Nexus 7, Android 4.3, and Chromecast HDMI Dongle

Google Announces a New Nexus 7, Android 4.3, and Chromecast HDMI Dongle

Jul 24, 2013

Google held an event in San Francisco today to announce a bevy of new things on both the hardware and software side of Android. Here’s a rundown of the major developments.

New Nexus 7 announced

Nexus72-Specs

The original Nexus 7 was a great budget device that had some shortcomings. They all appear to have been addressed in the 2013 model, though at a slightly higher cost. First, the processor is more powerful, with a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro that is allegedly 80% faster than the 2012 Nexus 7. This is abandoning the Tegra line, but the Snapdragon line is becoming quite common as well. There’s 2 GB of RAM now, which puts it on par with most high-end phones and tablets releasing these days. The resolution has been bumped up to 1920×1200, at a 323 PPI pixel density that outclasses the iPad mini by far, and even the full-size iPads.

Missed having a rear camera on the 2012 Nexus 7? The 2013’s got one. Hated the lack of HDMI output? There’s Slimport support for HDMI output through micro-USB, same as the Nexus 4, though this is still a different standard than the MHL used in most other phones. LTE models will be made available. The only thing missing is an SD card slot.

The cost has gone up slightly, but not exorbitantly so: $229 for the 16 GB, and $269 for the 32 GB. The tablet will go be available on July 30th.

Android 4.3

Another incremental Android update was announced that brings a lot of behind-the-scenes features. Better performance, Bluetooth 4.3, dialer autocomplete, an improved camera app, an Emoji keyboard, and more. But reports of better battery life may be the big reason to care about Android 4.3. Nexus devices will get 4.3 first, and the 2013 Nexus 7 will come with it preinstalled.

Chromecast

Chromecast

Rumors abounded of Google jumping in to the unconsole business, but it seems as if they’re doing something completely different with a TV push. The Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that allows for content from Chrome on any OS to be beamed to it, making it easy to share web content. It supports beaming of YouTube and Google Play media from Android devices as well. Oh, and it comes with Netflix. The device, running a modified version of ChromeOS, is most intriguing for its price: $35. That’s mass-market. Oh, and it comes with a gift code for 3 months of Netflix, which can be redeemed to existing accounts.

The device is shipping now, but there’s already a delay to buy them on Google Play: August 7th is the current estimated ship date. Amazon has it in stock too, and it may be quicker to get from them.