How to get the Android O beta on your Pixel or Nexus (and how to roll back to Nougat)

Here’s how to get the Android O Developer beta on your Nexus or Pixel device.

The Android O Developer Preview 2 is here, and if you’re looking to install it on your phone or tablet, you’re now able to opt-in to the first public beta, which is also available as the second Developer Preview.

Which devices support the Android O Developer Preview?

The preview is supported on the following phones and tablets:

  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel C
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus Player

Download the Android O beta

If you don’t want to mess with unlocking your bootloader or the command line, the second Android O Developer Preview is also the first public beta. That means that if you have one of the above eligible devices, you can simply visit the Android Beta portal and opt-in to the beta, which will then prompt Google to send your phone or tablet an over-the-air update.

  1. Head to Android Beta program portal on your Pixel or Nexus phone or tablet.
  2. Sign into the Google account associated with that phone.
  3. Scroll down to Your eligible devices.
  4. Find the device you want to enrol in the Beta program and tap Enrol device.
  5. Follow the prompts to accept the over-the-air download.

Note: To leave the beta program, simply press the button on the Android Beta program page to unenroll. Your phone will receive an over-the-air update to return to the stable version of Android 7.1.2 Nougat, but your phone will be wiped clean upon rebooting, so back up your stuff.

Install the Android Developer Preview from the command line

What you need to know beforehand

The Android O Developer Preview 2 is also being released as a factory image, which you can download from the Android Developer Portal.

In order to update a phone or tablet to Android O this way, you need to first unlock your bootloader.

Before we go into these steps, it is strongly recommended that you have previous knowledge of working with the Android SDK (software development kit) and Terminal (OS X or Linux) or Command Prompt (Windows), as it is possible to harm your device if something were to go wrong in the following process.

You’ll need to download an updated Android SDK that has the latest Android O tools and images, and you can grab it from the Android Development website and follow their instructions on how to install it correctly. For the following process all you will need is the adb and fastboot files which are located in the Platform Tools folder.

Additionally, all the following commands are written as they would be in Terminal on a Linux or OS X platform. If you are following this guide and using a Windows machine, you will not need to use the “./” seen in the guide.

Enable developer settings and USB debugging

Before you begin, you’ll need to have a compatible Nexus or Pixel device running Android 7.x Nougat.

  1. Go to your Settings and scroll down to About Phone/Tablet
  2. Tap on the Build number seven times until the dialog box says you are now a developer
  3. Go back to the Settings menu and you should find a new option called Developer options. Click into the Developer options
  4. Make sure that the developer options are turned on and that USB debugging is checked on
  5. Make sure Enable OEM unlock is checked.
  6. Plug your device into your computer and click “OK” on the dialog box asking you to Allow USB debugging while connected to the computer. You can also select to always allow access on that computer

If done correctly, this will be everything you will need to do on your phone or tablet for the moment.

Unlocking your bootloader

Nexus devices and Pixel phones bought from Google directly have a bootloader you can unlock. If you want to manually flash software, you’ll need to do this.

To do this you must first boot into your bootloader. You can either manually turn off your phone or tablet and hold down the power button and the volume down button to enter your device’s Bootloader Menu or you can enter the following commands into your terminal or command prompt.

Run the following command to make sure your device is properly connected to your computer. If it returns a string of characters it means that you are all set to start updating your device.

./adb devices

Now to enter into the Bootloader menu just run the following command.

./adb reboot bootloader

At the bottom of the screen there will be several things listed including the lock state of the device. This should say locked unless you have unlocked your bootloader in the past and never went back and locked it again.

To unlock your bootloader, which is required only when flashing a stock firmware image (not sideloading and update, which we’ll get to soon), you must enter the following commands. Remember that when unlocking your Nexus’ bootloader it will factory reset your device, so you will lose everything stored on it. If you have not yet backed up anything important on your device you can hit the power button while Start is highlighted in the Bootloader menu and this will boot you back into your device like normal. Now back to unlocking your bootloader.

Use the command:

./fastboot flashing unlock

A dialog will appear on the device asking if you are sure about unlocking. Again this will factory reset your device, so if you want to back out of the process you just need to select no with the power button. If you are ready to unlock your bootloader you press the volume up button and then the power button to confirm that you wish to unlock your bootloader.

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

It is recommended to reboot the bootloader just to give itself a check to make sure everything is working correctly before moving onto the next step.

Flashing the stock firmware image

Now that your bootloader is unlocked, it’s time to flash the Android O image. To find the system images, head on over to the Factory Images page, find your device, and download the latest factory image available. It is easiest to then uncompress the file in the Platform Tools folder where the adb and fastboot files are so that you don’t have to type the path to the different files when flashing the firmware. (Or if you know that you can drag a file into a terminal window to copy the path, just do that.)

To begin, make sure you are still in the bootloader menu on your device and double check that your bootloader is in fact unlocked.

First, make sure that your computer is communicating correctly with your phone or tablet. As long as your device’s serial number comes back as a connected device you are ready to begin updating your device.

./fastboot devices

Now it is time to flash the updated bootloader with the following command.

./fastboot flash bootloader [bootloader file].img

You will not see anything on the screen of your device but there should be a dialog in your terminal or command prompt. When it is done flashing the bootloader you should reboot back into the bootloader as to make sure everything is still working correctly.

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

Next you flash the updated radios. This step is only necessary if you are updating the firmware of a phone or tablet that has cellular radios built into it.

./fastboot flash radio [radio file].img

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

Finally, it’s time to flash the actual system image to your phone or tablet.

Warning: The following line of code will wipe your device. If you do **not* want your device to be wiped, remove the “-w” from the command. The update should still take just fine, and it will not wipe your user data.

./fastboot -w update [image file].zip

When this is done, your phone will restart itself and boot up normally. As this process clears all data from your device, it will take slightly longer for your device to boot up into Android O for the first time. Once you have been greeted with the device setup walkthrough process, you know you have successfully flashed a new version of the firmware.

If you do not want to enter the commands manually there are scripts included inside the compressed folder containing the system image that will do most but not all of the heavy lifting for you. The flash-all script files will automate the flashing of the bootloader, radios (if needed), and the system image. The problem with this process is that you must first make sure that your phone is in the bootloader menu and its bootloader must be unlocked before starting the script. Of course if these are not already done the script will fail to run and nothing will happen.

How to revert back to Nougat from the Android O Developer Preview

So you’re not happy with an early beta and need to re-install Nougat. That’s pretty easy! If you installed Android O using the factory image, all you need to do is find the right system image compatible with your handset or slate and run the same procedures as above but with the Android Nougat image.

When finding your Nougat image, make sure you are downloading the correct one that corresponds with your device. If you’re running a Verizon or Rogers Pixel, for instance, you’ll have to make sure you download the right one.

If you opted into the beta and want to roll back, just unenroll from the beta and restart your phone.

Problems? Confused?

If you’re having issues or want to ask a question, come join us in our forums for all the tips, tricks and advice you can handle!

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