This guide will show you how to install the brand new Android 5.1 Lollipop update so that you can try out Google’s latest version of Android right now on your Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and other Nexus devices.
Google released an early developer preview of what was then called the Android L release back in June when they first debuted the new operating system, and it October finally revealed Android 5.0 Lollipop. That was quickly followed by Android 5.0.1 and Android 5.0.2 updates to fix bugs, and now a major maintenance update has been released.
Yesterday Google confirmed the Android 5.1 Lollipop update is currently rolling out over the air (slowly) for some users, but 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 Lollipop on their phone or tablet right now.
Android 5.1 Lollipop promises to deliver tons of under the hood tweaks that should completely improve the Android Lollipop experience. The first update had tons of minor bugs, memory leak problems causing app crashes, and some users reported poor battery life. Google’s addressed all of this and more, so lets get Android 5.1 right now.
The Android 5.1 Lollipop System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android 5.1 on the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2012), and the Nexus 10. Currently those are the only 5.1 images 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 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 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 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 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 Lollipop System Images. You can find them at the links below. Only a few Nexus devices have been posted, but we’re expecting almost all recent Nexus devices to be listed before the end of the week.
- Nexus 5 Android 5.1 System Image
- Nexus 7 Android 5.1 System Image (2012 WiFi)
- Nexus 10 Android 5.1 System Image
Google has yet to post the Nexus 4, Nexus 6, or newer 2013 Nexus 7 images, but expect to them to arrive soon.
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 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 7 or Nexus 10 is not bootloader unlocked you should do that first. We could not install the Android 5.1 System image with the device locked. This will wipe your tablet and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc.
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 Android 5.1 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 update to your Nexus5, 7 or 10.
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 5, 7 or Nexus 10. 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 two minutes for us.
When the device finishes you can enter your information and start using Android 5.1 Lollipop today on your device. 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 like a charm in Android 5.1 Lollipop. Enjoy!
For those who’d rather not toy around with all this stuff, the over the air update is rolling out as we speak for all most Nexus devices, even if Google didn’t state exactly which devices, so the wait shouldn’t be long. 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 is a staggered rollout, so the update may not hit all devices right away. Be patient.