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.

The Hills Are Greener: Why #BoycottApple Isn’t The Solution to Patent Litigation

The Hills Are Greener: Why #BoycottApple Isn’t The Solution to Patent Litigation

Jul 9, 2012

So, across the Internet, but particularly on Google+, there’s a trend brewing: #boycottapple. This started after Apple had a judge put an injunction on Galaxy Nexus sales due to alleged patent violations.

The problem is that boycotting Apple for their patent litigation is not the problem. The problem is the software patent system. Google has been a part of this system too. They have sued to protect their patents. Everyone in the mobile business has, because no one’s going to just sit on their patents. Everyone is essentially compelled to play the game, and the only rational ideology, if we’re boycotting those who play the patent litigation game, is to go off the grid and live in the forest. With a huge beard.

The software patent system is set up for companies to be obfuscating and vague enough to where patent authors can be vague enough to justify covering as many applications as possible, which of course means that when anything remotely infringing comes along, legal paperwork and eventually money changes hands. Of course, there is something almost reassuring in a bizarre way about patent holders actually using their patents in real-world uses, as opposed to patent trolls who sit on their patents, never using them, then suing when they can make the biggest financial gain. At least the giants are all suing each other.

Software innovation should be protected, and while I kind of want to see the patent system done away with entirely just to stop these issues from recurring, it may just be throwing the baby out with the bath water. I like the EFF’s ideas to reform software patents. But the thing is this: software innovation happens at a more rapid pace than what the patent system is set up to protect. In a way, I would almost rather see a world where the goal is to get an idea executed first, because right now it’s not stopping anyone. Android is lifting ideas from iOS, and iOS is lifting features from Android. All the patent system is doing is clogging up courtrooms, and keeping lawyers employed. It is protecting small players in a way, but I do believe that it is still about innovation and execution. Do not forget about the latter part of that.

So, really, tweeting and Facebooking and Google Plussing #BoycottApple is avoiding the heart of the issue. Encourage politicians to work on reforming patents. Or become a lumberjack. No one’s patented the axe. Yet.

The Galaxy Nexus Goes Out of Sale on Google Play: A Patent Story With Real-World Impact?

The Galaxy Nexus Goes Out of Sale on Google Play: A Patent Story With Real-World Impact?

Jul 4, 2012

Patent issues are threatening to impact consumers again, as Google has stopped selling the Galaxy Nexus on Google Play, according to Phandroid. Android Rundown is trying not to cover the recent patent lawsuits going on between Google, Apple, and other companies, because it’s generally uninteresting, neverending, and irrelevant as many of these cases wind up being settled with money changing hands and licensing deals struck. Usually, there’s no impact to the average person. However, Apple’s recent lawsuit against Samsung, alleging that the Galaxy Nexus violates their patents, has caused for a temporary injunction to be brought against Google’s flagship phone.

As such, Google has temporarily stopped selling the unlocked HSPA+ version on Google Play. There’s no word if the versions available through Sprint and Verizon will go out of sale. After the recent customs holdup of new HTC phones, this is the second time that the US has seen a phone held back from consumers. As well, Nokia appears to be bringing up a potential wireless patent issue with Asus and Google over the Nexus 7, but licensing may be the endgame there.

It’s likely, with all the patent issues out there, that covering every single phone being pulled would be dreadful reading, and for current Android owners who want to know what they should be able to do with their current device, it’s uninteresting reading. It’s why the site tries to focus on the apps, the things that can be currently done, covering important hardware news because that is important in the world of Android. This story is important because this impacts Google’s flagship phone, the star device running Jelly Bean, and because of the implications on the future of the operating system from both a usability and business standpoint. It is big news, and any future stories on hardware, and the patent issues will try to meet a standard of being important enough to report. Not every patent trial is worth writing about for the average Android user. But as the editor of Android Rundown, I believe this is.

If there are any readers out there with feedback on the site’s coverage of any patent issues, and hardware in general, please leave a comment below.

What’s New in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

What’s New in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

Jun 29, 2012

Lest we forget with the new hardware introduced at Google I/O 2012, the new Android version was introduced there as well: Jelly Bean. This isn’t 5.0, as some people speculated, but a 4.1 release, and as such it appears to be largely comprised of incremental updates, little features to improve the experience on Android, rather than major overhauls like Ice Cream Sandwich introduced.

Delta app updates have been introduced, which means that when an app update is released, it’s possible for only the data that’s been changed to be downloaded to the device in order to update it. This could come extremely in handy for large games – and iOS could use this feature!

Notifications can now include more information than just their app icon with a subject and text, with richer information fields that will allow for multiple lines of text and images to be added in to notifications. Multiple actions can be added to a notification, such as missed calls will have options to call back or send a message directly from the notification bar. Developers can implement this in their apps as well. Users will be able to prioritize notifications as well, so important ones appear at the top.

On a technical level, new vsync timing has been introduced across Android frameworks in order to help combat lagginess. Part of Google’s “Project Butter,” if this helps make the Android user experience much smoother, it could help Google out in the war of quality versus iOS. Devices with HDMI output can now send multichannel audio through HDMI, meaning that hypothetically, videos from Google Play can now play back through surround sound systems. Widgets can now automatically resize based on the space available to them, and change the content in them based on the space given.

Additional options for accessories have been added, such as discovery of new input devices like controllers, and discovery of features such as force feedback in controllers. Network discovery options for finding services on local networks could also help with local wifi multiplayer games. Audio can be output via USB, which will help with dock accessories that will be able to charge and play music in a car through one port, for example.

While there’s not one killer feature here that defines the OS, or any kind of major overhaul visually, it’s an update that should improve the user experience for the lucky few who get it. The update is rolling out to the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and Motorola Xoom in the next month, the Nexus 7 will launch with Jelly Bean, and the source code is available now for phone manufacturers (read: custom ROM creators) to start playing around with and get supported on their phones soon.

Google Now Selling the Unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus Through Google Play

Google Now Selling the Unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus Through Google Play

Apr 25, 2012

The Nexus line of phones began with Google selling the Nexus One online. Now Google is taking another stab at selling a phone directly to consumers, by selling an unlocked GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus on Google Play. While the phone is available on contract from Verizon and Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile in the US have not carried it. However, this phone will work with those carriers, and while it will not support LTE, it does support what is marketed as 4G, HSPA+. As well, the phone is available at a relative bargain price, $399 plus tax and shipping. This is only $100 or $200 more than similar Galaxy models on contract.

While this is a win for consumers, what this really means is that Google is setting up an architecture to potentially sell their much-rumored-but-never-seen Nexus Tablet on the web. Rumors of this plan been floating around the web. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this definitely smells like smoke.

Google and Samsung Unveil the Galaxy Nexus. Here Are 5 Important Details to Know.

Google and Samsung Unveil the Galaxy Nexus. Here Are 5 Important Details to Know.

Oct 19, 2011

Never mind that Google bought Motorola Mobility recently, Samsung recently went on stage with Google in Hong Kong to reveal the latest Nexus phone, running the newest version of Android: Ice Cream Sandwich. Check out our Ice Cream Sandwich rundown to get all the details on what that operating system will bring to the Galaxy Nexus, which will feature a stock Ice Cream Sandwich experience, but even this new Google Nexus phone has a variety of improved features. Here are 5 important features from this new phone from Samsung and Google.

1280×720 4.65″ screen: Yes, 720p screen on a phone. With a thin bezel of 4.29 mm to boot. The onscreen buttons go away when fullscreen content like video is displayed for no letterboxing of 16×9 content. This is on a Super AMOLED screen with a 4.29mm bezel. This comes out to about 316 PPI (pixels per inch), or just below the Retina Display’s 330 DPI. The shorthand? It’s a very impressive, high-detail screen.

Internals: The important numbers to know are that this phone has a whopping 1 GB of RAM (more than the iPhone 4S) and a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor. As well, it boasts 32GB of internal storage.

Camera: While the 5 MP resolution isn’t top-of-the-line, it makes up for it in one key feature: instant shuttering. Photos can be taken as soon as the shutter button in the camera app is pressed, and taking several successive shots is easy as well. The camera also supports 1080p video recording, along with ICS’ new panoramic and time-lapse video recording features.

Network Speed: The phone will come in both LTE and HSPA+ variants, so hypothetically all US carriers should be able to support the Galaxy Nexus with marketed 4G speed.

NFC and Face Unlock: The Galaxy Nexus has an NFC chip (near field communications) built-in, so it can use services like Google Wallet, along with an ICS feature called Google Beam, which allows 2 phones to share information between them just by touching them together. As well, the front-facing camera can be used to unlock the Galaxy Nexus through facial recognition.

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Oct 19, 2011

Along with the Galaxy Nexus, Google showed off Ice Cream Sandwich publicly for the first time on Wednesday morning, October 19th, in Hong Kong. While many of the features were shown to be tailored to the Galaxy Nexus, many of the core features can be expected in both upcoming phones and hopefully in updates to current phones. Many of the features in Ice Cream Sandwich are taken from Honeycomb, and are new to phones. First off, phones will have the ability to have virtual buttons, which can be hid by full-screen apps. The Honeycomb multitasking button is now available on Ice Cream Sandwich as well, allowing for easy switching between apps.

The gallery app has new options for photo editing, including the ability to apply so-called hipster filters, along with the currently-available photo editing options. Panoramic photos are now available in the stock camera app as well; Samsung already offered this feature in their phones. As mentioned previously, screen capture with the lock and volume down keys has also been added.

The browser has been overhauled; tabs can be switched through in a similar way to multitasking. The ability to request a desktop version of a site instead of the mobile version is also available. Incognito mode has made its way to the browser, a feature previously seen in Chrome, where the web can be browsed without any data or cookies saved. Websites can be saved for offline viewing, and can be shared via Google Beam.

Gmail and Calendar will be overhauled with new interfaces, and will take advantage of the visual contacts theme that Google has introduced. This means that contacts will be identified by their photos across the OS and in many apps. Contact information includes new social updates as well, hoping to be an aggregator for information on friends, family, and colleagues.

An advanced feature for those looking to manage their mobile data is in the Settings’ new Data Usage Controls. Users can set monthly data caps, view which services are using mobile data, and can also block mobile data usage entirely. Notifications have received mild updates, with the ability to swipe away individual notifications, and the aforementioned visual contact display for incoming messages.

The SDK for Ice Cream Sandwich has been released, and developers can start working on their apps for the new OS immediately. The first device to ship with ICS will be the Galaxy Nexus; previous devices that will get it have not yet been announced.