Just yesterday, Google released the Android O Developer Preview, offering developers with a sneak-peek at the changes in the upcoming mobile operating system. The preview update also gives the developer community an opportunity to get their apps ready for Android O, before it is officially rolled out to consumers. The new operating system is compatible with both Pixel and Nexus range of devices, including – Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C tablet, the Nexus 5X, the Nexus 6P and the Nexus Player.
The Android O Developer Preview update brings in bug fixes, performance improvements and a range of new features. These include background limits for improved battery life, improvements to bundled notifications, high-quality audio support, adaptive icons, picture-in-picture mode, AutoFill APIs and improved keyboard navigation.
Unlike last year, when Google released the Android N Developer Preview update via OTA (over-the-air), this time around the company has only released the factory images. So, if you want to try out the new OS right now, you’ll have to manually download the file and flash it on your device. It’s slightly a tedious process and even a small mistake can potentially brick your device. If you still want to go ahead and try, follow the below procedure.
To begin with, ensure that you take a complete backup of all your data – contacts, messages, music, photos and videos. Once that is done, head over to ‘Settings’ on your Pixel or Nexus device. Tap on About Phone and then tap on Build Number for 7-8 times — this will unlock Developer Options for you. Once this is done, once again head over to Settings > About Phone > Developer Options and enable USB Debugging.
Now, you’ll need Google USB drivers for your Windows-based PC, which you can download from here and install. You will also need to download Android Studio, but that’s about 1.8GB in size, so as an alternative, I’d recommend downloading ‘Minimal ADB and Fastboot’ from here. Next, extract the .zip file on your desktop and open the folder (you should see files like adb, fastboot and more)
Next, hold the ‘shift’ button on keyboard, right click and click on ‘open command window here.’ Once this is done, connect your Nexus or Pixel device to the PC using the data cable. In the command window type adb devices and hit enter. Here, you should be able to see your smartphone ‘connected devices.’
Downloading Android O Developer Preview on your Nexus or Pixel device
Now that the device is ready and connected to PC using the data cable, go ahead and download the factory images from here. You will see the device name in one column, download link on the other, and the MD checksum in the third column. Download the one for your device. For instance, the file name for Nexus 6P is angler-opp1.170223.012-factory-caec5ca2.zip whereas for the Pixel it is sailfish-opp1.170223.012-factory-164983f4.zip and so on.
Once the zip file is downloaded, extract it and you will see files like radio.img, boot.img, system.img and more. Now, copy all these files and paste them onto ‘Minimal ADB and Fastboot’ folder.
How to flash Android O Developer Preview on your Nexus or Pixel device
Now we move on to the main part where we will first unlock the bootloader, flash all the files and then relock the bootloader.
Step 1: Open ‘Minimal ADB and Fastboot’ folder, press shift on the keyboard, right click and open command prompt. Connect your Nexus or Pixel device using the data cable, type adb reboot bootloader and press enter. (Alternatively, you can also switch off the device, and press and hold combination of — Volume Up + Volume Down + Power when the device boots.)
Step 2: On the screen if it shows that your bootloader is locked, type fastboot flashing unlock and hit enter. For older devices, type fastboot oem unlock and hit enter. On the screen, you will see a prompt asking if you want to unlock the bootloader, with yes or no option. Use the Volume + or Volume – buttons to select the options, and press the ‘power’ button to select.
Step 3: After the bootloader is unlocked, once again boot to the bootloader screen using the buttons combination or using command prompt as in Step 1. Next, type flash-all and hit enter in command prompt, which will flash all the required files such as bootloader, baseband firmware, system image, radio image and the operating system. After the installation is complete, your Pixel or Nexus device will reboot to the new OS.
Step 4: Now repeat ‘Step 1’ and relock the bootloader. In command prompt, type fastboot flashing lock and hit enter. In case of older devices, type fastboot oem lock and hit enter. That’s it, you’re done.