After months of waiting with no updates, Google finally got around to updating its latest flagship Nexus 9 tablet. This guide will show you how to install the brand new Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update so that you can try out Google’s latest version of Android right now on your Nexus 9 ahead of the OTA update.
In October Google finally unveiled Android 5.0 Lollipop, and since then we’ve seen countless quick and small updates aimed at addressing many critical bugs and issues in the release. In March Android 5.1 arrived to fix problems in Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, and now after weeks of rumors Google’s released Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for the Nexus 9. The tablets first update since November, one it was sorely needing.
Last week Google confirmed the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update in the form of factory images for the Nexus 7, and then this week announced it was headed to the Nexus 9. However, if you want to get it right now, here’s how to do so. You’ll need the newly updated factory images provided by Google to install on your device. In addition you will need to install the Android SDK or at least ADB and Fastboot. Below we’ll go over all the details in a simple fashion for those who’d like to try Android 5.1.1 Lollipop on their tablet right now.
Android 5.1 Lollipop promised to deliver tons of under the hood tweaks that completely improved the Android Lollipop experience, and it did exactly that but didn’t fix the famed memory leak bug. The initial Lollipop release was riddled with small problems, app crashes, and instability, and Google’s slowly made it an all around better experience. Android 5.1 saved the original Nexus 7, and 5.1.1 should make things even better. The Nexus 9 for whatever reason is the only Nexus device that is still on Android 5.0.1, until this week, and is now getting the latest and greatest.
The Android 5.1.1 Lollipop System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android Lollipop on the Nexus 9. Not all devices 5.1.1 images are available, but more will be released over the coming days. This is essentially everything that you would download as an over-the-air update for regular Android updates. However, this makes the phone stock like it was out of the box (aka factory image) and will wipe all user data and settings. Repeat, this will erase all user data.
If you’d rather not wait for the official update for your device in the coming weeks, you can get it right now by following the steps below. It’s worth waiting for average users, but if you’re up for the challenge, here’s all the details. This guide will show you how to install the latest Nexus Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update early. This is something you can do from Windows, Mac, Linux or ChromeOS.
How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS
Before you can install the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop release to Nexus devices you will need to install ADB and Fastboot to your computer. This is a program that runs on your PC/Mac to connect to your Android device through a USB cable and flash the Android software to your device.
Installing ADB and Fastboot is one of the most annoying parts of installing Android factory images, but several new tools make it incredibly easy.
How to Install ADB on Windows
If you are using a Windows machine, including up to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 you can use the 15 second adb installer to streamline the process.
Download the ADB installer for Windows. Find the file, right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. When prompted you need to give the app access to run as an administrator. After the app launches type a Y and enter to select yes to Install ADB & Fastboot, to intsll ADB/Fastboot systemwide and to install Drivers. When a new window pops up follow the steps to install the drivers.
After this is installed you should be ready to install the Android 5.1.1 update on your Nexus smartphone or tablet.
How to Install ADB on Mac, Linux & ChromeOS
Nexus Tools makes it easy to install ADB on a Mac, Linux or even ChromeOS. All you need to do is open Terminal on your computer and past in the code from xda. Open terminal by going to search, and simply typing Terminal and opening the program.
This will install ADB and Fastboot on Mac, Linux and Chrome OS without the need to do anything else. It’s extremely easy, and avoids all the ADB package mess that typically takes much longer to complete.
After the script completes you can type ADB or Fastboot to start running either program. This is where you’ll need to be to flash the new Android 5.1.1 image on your device. Remember to head into settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first.
How to Install Android 5.1 Right Now
The first thing you need to do is download the just released final Android 5.1.1 Lollipop System Images. You can find them at the links below. Only a few Nexus devices have been posted, but we’re expecting Google to push over the air updates out and release more factory images soon. Hopefully 5.1.1 arrives for smartphones soon, as of right now only tablets have received the latest software upgrade.
Google has yet to post the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, or Nexus 6 images, but we expect to them to arrive soon. The Nexus 9 is the only device released in the last two years that hasn’t seen an update past Android 5.0.1, until now, so users are extremely excited and want this update right now.
You will need to unzip these files to a folder you can access, we just unzipped it to our Mac desktop. After you have the Android 5.1.1 system image unzipped you will need to find this folder and type cmd into the address bar on Windows, or open terminal and change the folder to this folder on Mac, Linux or Chrome OS. Reminder, if you’re on a MAC you need to make sure terminal is running inside the folder you just unzipped.
If your Nexus 9 is not bootloader unlocked you should do that first. We could not install the Android 5.1.1 System image with the device locked. This will wipe your tablet and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. Make sure you backup anything important before you begin.
Open a Terminal in the adb folder and type the command below then hit enter.
adb reboot bootloader
In Fastboot type:
fastboot oem unlock
Then hit enter. Follow the on-screen instructions and choose to erase the device. Wait a minute or so for it to unlock. This removes everything on your device.
Flash the Image
Now open the folder containing the unzipped Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 System Image file you downloaded. Type cmd in the address bar. Type the following commands and hit enter. On a Mac you can open Terminal in the folder by enabling terminal shortcuts in settings. This is key for Mac users. Head to System Preferences and select Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Find “New Terminal at Folder” in the settings and click the box. Now when you’re in Finder, just right-click a folder and you’re shown the open to open Terminal. Or just do it from the desktop where you unzipped the Factory image as shown below.
Once in terminal simply copy and paste the commands below to install the Android 5.1.1 update to your Nexus 9. These same steps work for any Nexus device as long as you have the right system image.
This will flash all of the needed files. If you are on a Mac or other computer you will need to type;
This will push all of the files to your Nexus 9. The files will start pushing and installing and your Nexus device may reboot and you will see an Android figure and then a moving Android logo. The logo screen may stay for a long time. Don’t unplug the device. This may last 10 minutes or longer. When Android prompts you to complete setup you can unplug the Nexus. It took less than three minutes for us.
When the device finishes you can enter your information and start using Android 5.1.1 Lollipop today on your N9. Give the new Tap n Go (automatically restore) a try using NFC to automatically restore and and all apps, settings, accounts and more from another device. It works great.
For those who’d rather not toy around with all this stuff, an over the air (OTA) update should begin any time now. Google claimed it started on May 7th, but we’ve yet to see it arrive. If this is all a bit daunting, just wait for the over the air notification to arrive in the coming days or weeks. As a reminder, the above process will wipe all data from your device. So waiting for the over the air update may be a good route for average users. Also, this will be a staggered rollout, so the over the air update may not hit all devices right away. Be patient, it will arrive soon enough and hopefully fix all of our Nexus 9 problems.