With a Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop release in the cards for Nexus smartphones and tablets, we want to offer up some helpful tips to Nexus users poised to receive the Android 5.1 Lollipop update from Google. These tips should help make release day go a lot smoother for Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Nexus 6, and Nexus 9 users.
In November, after a lengthy developer preview, Google finally pushed out its new Android 5.0 Lollipop update to the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 2013 Wi-Fi, Nexus 7 2012 Wi-Fi, and the Nexus 10. Smaller bug fix updates went out to the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, both of which arrived with Android 5.0 Lollipop on board from the get go.
Just hours after the Android 5.0 Lollipop update started rolling out, Nexus users began complaining about a series of Android 5.0 Lollipop problems plaguing the new operating system. It took weeks, but Google finally addressed some of these issues when it pushed out Android 5.0.1 Lollipop and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop updates to its stable of Nexus devices.
Android 5.0.1 and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop tackled a ton of issues but they failed to tackle them all. Fortunately, Google’s not going to leave Nexus users hanging. This week, Google finally confirmed an Android 5.1 Lollipop update for Nexus smartphones and tablets and from the look of things, Android 5.1 is going to be a big one.
With Android 5.1 factory images now available, it should only be a matter of time before the Android 5.1 Lollipop OTAs start pushing for key Nexus devices including the Nexus 7, Nexus 5 and Nexus 10. With that in mind, we want to help make the Android 5.1 Lollipop release date as stress-free as possible for owners of Google’s Nexus devices.
Android 5.1 Lollipop Release Time
Google’s announced the Android 5.1 Lollipop release and it has released files into the Android Open Source project so it’s clear that OTAs are close. If this is your first experience with Google’s Nexus update roll out process, note that Google is extremely unpredictable when it comes to the release times for its Android updates. Nexus Android updates have started rolling out at all hours of the day and there’s no easy way to predict when these Android 5.1 roll outs will start.
This means that you shouldn’t be checking your phone or tablet at any specific time. Instead, you should simply keep an eye out on the internet for the start of the roll out. We’ll let you know when the OTAs start and your fellow Nexus users will almost certainly give you a heads up. There is no need to sit by the phone or tablet all day checking for an upgrade. This isn’t Apple that we’re dealing with.
You’ll want to remain very patient with Google and its roll out process. In addition to the unpredictable release times, it’s worth noting that Google almost always rolls its Nexus Android updates out in stages. It’s a process that can take up to a week or so to complete and it’s a process that a Google engineer described many months ago. If you’re not familiar, here’s how the roll out process works:
Rollouts are conducted in phases. Typically they start at 1% of devices for around 24 – 48 hours; we watch the return rates and resulting device checkins and error reports (if any), and make sure nothing looks wrong before sending it to more. Then typically it goes to 25%, 50%, 100% over the course of a week or two.
What the percentages mean is that when your device checks in, it has a 1% chance (for example) of being offered the OTA. If it doesn’t (randomly) get an offer, it will never get an offer until the next batch.
IOW, once your device checks in and gets turned down, that’s it until the next batch. Mashing on the “check for updates” button just causes your device to check in again, and get automatically turned down again. Think about how that makes your device feel! WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE PHONES?!
That said, once the new batch does start, hitting that button does give you a new roll of the dice — but once. Since devices usually only check in for system updates every 24 hours (I think? Certainly on a many-hours basis) this can get you your shot sooner than it would happen on its own.
So, mash away. :) Just be patient, and mashing on it more often than once or twice a day isn’t going to gain you anything.
Edit: also, keep in mind that this isn’t first-come/first-served. You’re not racing other devices to get your slot in the current batch, or something.
You Can Install Android 5.1 Early
If you don’t want to wait for the OTA, you can install the Android 5.1 update manually. Once the roll out begins, the OTA files will emerge from Google’s servers. Once those files are found, you can sideload the software on your device. Many seasoned Nexus users will be able to do this no problem and get Android 5.1 Lollipop up and running in no time at all. You can also use the factory images right now if you wish.
If you don’t know how to sideload, we recommend educating yourself ahead of the Android 5.1 Lollipop release. For more information about sideloading updates, have a look at our guide. Even if you decide against it, it’s worth absorbing the process for next time.
You Don’t Need to Install Early or At All
If you aren’t familiar with sideloading software updates or if this is somehow your first Nexus Android update, we suggest skipping the manual install process. Our recommendation is that if you start to feel uncomfortable about the instructions, skip it, and wait for the OTA.
Also, note that you don’t have to install the Android 5.1 Lollipop update the second that it comes out. If you want to, you can simply ignore the prompt and continue on whatever version of Android you’re on.
If you’re new to Android, Android 5.0 Lollipop or you’re simply a novice smartphone or tablet user, we recommend holding off on installing on the release date, at least for a few days. Instead, we suggest gathering feedback from fellow Nexus users. This will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to install Android 5.1 or not. We’re expecting good things from this update but can never tell.
Do not come to your Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop release date unprepared, especially if you’re a novice user. Make sure your apps are updated so that they don’t cause serious issues after the upgrade. Make sure your device is at charged half way at least. Make sure your important files are backed up in the cloud or locally so that you don’t lose them if something does go wrong.
These precautions might seem like overkill to some of you but in our experience, the better prepared you are the better. The upgrade process can be a tad unpredictable and you’ll want to make sure that you and your device are ready ahead of time. Coming prepared won’t shut the door on potential issues but it will make them easier to deal with if they do pop up. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of steps to take ahead of the Android 5.1 Lollipop release. Use them.
Do Not Use the Google Framework Services “Trick”
We’ve said this before and people still don’t listen. For years, the Google Framework Services “trick” has been promoted by some sites as a way to force a Nexus update. While this “trick” may force the update, it’s going to do way more harm than good. Here is what a Google engineer had to say about the Google Framework Services move:
Doing this changes the primary ID by which Google knows your device. As far as the servers are concerned, the device was basically factory reset. There are many downstream effects of this, but a big one is that this invalidates the tokens used by any app that uses GCM (which is nearly all the Google apps, and a ton of third-party apps.)
How apps react to GCM IDs changing varies by app. With Play Store you have to log out and log back in, I think Gmail usually handles it transparently eventually but won’t get new mail notifications for a while, etc. Some apps you may have to clear data on to recover. All apps will simply stop getting GCM push-messages, until they get a new GCM ID; some do this frequently, others rarely, and some apps use the GCM ID as an ID on their own servers (as it is opaque and basically random), so other things besides push messages may not work.
Nothing bursts into flames, but it makes a ton of nuisances on the device, including some that can look pretty mysterious. Your mileage will vary depending on what apps you use.
All of this can be avoided by just doing an ‘adb sideload’ if you are impatient.
If that’s not convincing enough, have a look at what Google itself has to say about this “trick.”Do not use this process. Sideload or wait for the OTA. Don’t go down this road.
Set Aside Some Time for the Update
Android 5.1 Lollipop is a substantial update for Nexus smartphones and tablets. That’s we recommend setting aside some time for the installation and download process to ensure that everything goes smoothly. There’s always a chance that something will get fouled up, maybe even the installation process itself. You don’t want to be distracted if that happens.
Android 5.1 installation times will vary based on device and based on connection speed. If you’re on a slow connection, set aside some extra time for the update to download and install. It probably won’t take too long but it’s difficult to predict ahead of time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Expect Android 5.1 Lollipop Problems
Android 5.1 is set to deliver a ton of bug fixes and enhancements to Nexus devices. We also expect it to bring its own set of Android Lollipop problems.
Android updates almost always bring new problems to Nexus devices. They also tend to fail at fixing lingering issues. Android 5.1 Lollipop will probably be no different.
Most of these Android 5.1 Lollipop issues will likely be isolated so you’re probably not going to be able to rely on Google for help. Android 5.1 is a massive release so there’s no telling how close another bug fix update for Nexus devices might be. You’re going to need to be proactive if you run into problems. And please, don’t panic.
If you’re using your Nexus device for work, check in with your IT department before installing the software. If you aren’t, you’re going to have to rely on feedback and your own judgement.
Here Are Some Solid Resources
Google’s Nexus support forums are the first place to look for solutions for Android 5.1 Lollipop issues. There, Nexus users and forum moderators will offer useful advice and present temporary or permanent fixes. That’s a site that you’ll want to bookmark as a resource. It’s free and easy to navigate.
Comment sections on Android 5.1 stories and social media sites like Twitter are also helpful places to go should something come up during the Android 5.1 Lollipop installation process or after the software is installed. The Android Central Forums are also another solid place to look for possible fixes or help with the update should you need it. XDA-Developers is also a good site to check out.
We’ve also put together a list of potential Android 5.0.2 Lollipop problems and fixes that’s worth checking out if you’re not familiar with some of the more common problems and fixes.
Rooted/Custom ROM Users Proceed with Caution
Those of you who are rooted and using custom ROMs will want to proceed with caution. While power users will likely have no issues making the upgrade to the latest version of Android, average Nexus users that aren’t as involved in the community and Nexus users who have only recently rooted or installed custom software will need to be very careful.
Before installing the update, we suggest heading to a place like XDA-Developers or to a specific domain for your software like Cyanogenmod forums to ensure that everything is working properly and to seek assistance if necessary. We expect a fairly smooth transition process for most people but again, you just never know what might occur.
Install Lollipop From Home If Possible
Install Android 5.1 Lollipop from home base if possible. Installing at home means that there will be fewer distractions. It also means that you should have access to all of the proper information in case something goes wrong. The last thing you want is for something to go haywire while at work, in the middle of a class or on vacation.
You Can Downgrade
Finally, if you get Android 5.1 Lollipop on board your device and you aren’t liking the performance, you will be able to downgrade. We’ve put together some instructions that detail the process and you’ll simply need to substitute in the correct files. Something to keep in mind as we inch closer to the OTAs and potential Android 5.1 problems.