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.
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.
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 â€“ you’ll get the update soon!