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

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 – 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 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 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 Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

The Hills Are Greener: Why Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

Jan 21, 2013

A reminder that the Android market is not the same as the iOS market has been served by Super Hexagon. The Nexus 7 version of the game suffers from a latency issue on touch release that appears to be a hardware-level issue thanks to a cheap touchscreen on the Nexus 7, according to developer Terry Cavanagh; initially the game was going to skip the Nexus 7 but as players manually installed the game and reported that the issues were minor, he decided to go ahead and enabled Nexus 7 support on Google Play. Crisis averted.

Now, while eventually it was sorted out, the point is this: the Android tablet market is largely defined by cheap devices. The Nexus 7 got its start, after all, as a low-cost 7" tablet from Asus that was highly-powered, but concessions had to be made to get it down to the $200 level. There’s a general feel that it is less sturdy than say an iPad, though its rubbery grip could be the cause of that. Still, it’s something that pales in comparison to Apple’s hardware design – one may not enjoy Apple products, but their craftsmanship is very high, even on their relatively low cost ones.

It’s not just Google that’s doing it: Amazon and Nook are pushing low costs on their tablets too. And that’s not to speak of the many nameless manufacturers trying to cut below even them. The market has spoken, and in the 7“ range at least, people want cheap tablets. And there’s a chance that in getting them, quality is going to suffer at least a little bit. And while the 10” market is a bigger unknown – the smaller 7–8" range is the hot market now with the iPad jumping in, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 is certainly well-advertised, but finding out just how many units its sold is not an easy endeavor, while Samsung touts the sales of the entire Galaxy Note line. The Nexus 10 is sold out on Google Play, but who knows how accurate that is. Maybe only 10 Nexus 10s were made. The fact that the Nexus 4 is still out of stock is still suspicious as compared to how fast they should be produced. Who knows.

The point is this: the 7“ market is the clear winner for Android, but people should not expect to be getting the absolute latest and greatest because of the demand for low prices. And a similar phone market is unlikely to develop long-term because phone subsidies on 2-year contracts bring prices into the range of 7” tablets. Heck, even Apple is underpowering the iPad Mini compared to the full-size line. That says a lot about what this market really is.

Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 Go On Sale, Then Sell Out, While Jelly Bean 4.2 Starts Its Rollout

Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 Go On Sale, Then Sell Out, While Jelly Bean 4.2 Starts Its Rollout

Nov 13, 2012

Happy Nexus 4, HSPA+ Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 day! By which we mean unless you were awake at that random hour in your home country when Google put their devices on sale on Google Play, you’re probably feeling miserable right now over having to wait for Google to get more stock in. Considering how the Samsung Chromebook is still backordered, prepare to be patient. This was the case around the world, as widespread reports of not only the Nexus 4 being sold out but also the Nexus 10 were reported as the devices rolled out worldwide.

As of publication in the US, all of the Nexus 7 models are in stock, including the new HSPA+ Nexus 7. The 16 GB Nexus 10 is still in stock, but the 32 GB is out of stock. Both Nexus 4 models are out of stock.The new Acer C7 Chromebook, which boasts less-impressive specs compared to the $249 Samsung Chromebook, is still in stock after going on sale today for $199.

We’ve also learned that the HSPA+ Nexus 7 comes with an AT&T SIM. It will still work with T-Mobile networks, but users will need to provide their own SIM cards. They cost about $10 in-store, but the mobile broadband SIM runs for $6.99 from T-Mobile’s website, and phone SIMs are free.

Until Google gets adequate stock (or releases more stock after getting all this press for being sold out), for those still on the pedestrian Galaxy Nexus or wi-fi-only Nexus 7, there’s still a way to be part of the future. Jelly Bean 4.2 has started rolling out to these devices, but in the slower over-the-air rollout that came with 4.1.2 earlier this year, meaning that it may be a few days before the newest version of Android is on that Nexus device.

However, for those that are impatient and not afraid of tinkering around in recovery, Google has made the 4.2 updates available for the GSM-unlocked Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7. They require booting into recovery mode and transferring the files via ADB, but they can be done without rooting. Otherwise, while there aren’t any reports of the update being distributed over the air yet, it should just be a matter of time.

Anyone make the jump with the 4.2 update, or have success buying a new device?

Google Announces Nexus 4 Phone, Nexus 10 Tablet, and Updated Nexus 7 Models

Google Announces Nexus 4 Phone, Nexus 10 Tablet, and Updated Nexus 7 Models

Oct 29, 2012

With Hurricane Sandy attacking the east coast, the New York event Google had scheduled was delayed, but not the revelation of their new product line. The Nexus 4 and 10 are realities along with a refreshed Nexus 7 line, and are releasing to the world on November 13th.

First, the Nexus 4. This is a 4.7″ phone created by LG, that is the direct successor to the Galaxy Nexus. It boasts a 1280×768 screen (320ppi) with curved glass edges, and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, and there’s 2 GB of RAM to power this thing. NFC and Google Wallet are supported. The rear camera takes photos at 8 megapixels, records video at 1080p anad allows for still shots to be snapped while recording. There’s also a “Photo Sphere camera” which purportedly allows for 360 degree picture taking, likely in conjunction with the front-facing camera.

What may be the most intriguing part about this phone is that it’s going to be priced at $299 for 8 GB, and $349 for 16 GB unlocked for HSPA+ (meaning AT&T and T-Mobile in the US), and will be sold through Google Play. This is Google bringing the “sell at cost” model of Android tablets to phones, and considering that it’s barely a higher cost than phones like the iPhone on a 2-year contract, it could have an impact on the market. However, its lack of LTE is already being pointed out, and it may hold adoption back.

The Nexus 10 is a 10″ tablet created by Samsung, and its big feature is its screen. It’s a 2560×1600 screen (300 ppi) that is higher-res and more pixel-dense than the iPad Retina Display. It has an A15 processor, 2 GB of RAM, micro-HDMI output built-in, MIMO wi-fi support, is only 8.9mm thick, and weighs just 603 grams. $399 will be the cost for the 16 GB wi-fi version, and $499 for the 32 GB.

Software-wise, it along with the Nexus 4 boasts Android 4.2, which is still codenamed Jelly Bean, as it is just a minor update. For all devices, a new trace keyboard is available, finally competing with Swype at their own game. 10″ tablets receive the biggest change: the notification bar appears to now be split like on the Nexus 7, with the standard Back/Home/Multitasking buttons at the bottom and notifications dropping down from the top, instead of it all being available on the bottom. Expect custom roms to restore this functionality as it could be a controversial change. Not controversial is the addition of individual users, which allow for diffrent users to have different homescreens and apps for themselves.

Finally, the Nexus 7 sees its 8/16 GB models for $199/$249 respectively get bumped up to 16/32 GB. Also, an HSDPA+ unlocked model with 32 GB is available for $299. The specs are the same, but it will come with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

With the delay of the event, there’s the possibility that Google may still announce these at some point, or they may just let their website do the talking, along with top-tier features at low-tier price points. All the devices will be sold on Google Play, and will be available starting November 13th.