Moments ago Google officially announced and confirmed Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the successor to Android 5.0 Lollipop that was released last year. This is a large incremental update to Android 5.0, and over the last three months users have been getting early access to a developer preview called Android M. Now the last Android 6.0 Marshmallow developer preview is available, and here’s how users can install it right now.
Android 6.0 isn’t available yet, but a final developer preview is. Google is offering developers and enthusiasts access to an Android M beta ahead of the official release, which is what we’ll be doing below. They’ve confirmed Android 6.0 will arrive before the end of September, but select Nexus owners can try it right now. Those on the developer preview 1 or 2 will get an over the air update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow preview 3.
The Android M DP3 System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow (preview 3) on the Nexus 5, 6, 9 or Player. This is essentially everything that you would download as an OTA update for regular Android updates. Read on for all the details.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow will deliver a variety of new features, improvements to battery life with a feature called Doze, Android Pay, native fingerprint support, multi-window mode, Google Now on Tap, USB Type-C ports, and much more for Android smartphones and tablets. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and a few changes visually, and some users will want to try all of that early.
Before we start it needs to be said that this is not official software that average users should install to their daily devices. This is an early developer preview (beta) of Android 6.0 for testing and getting apps prepared for all of the changes, and may not be 100% stable. Features are missing like Android Pay or Google Now on Tap, some apps are broken or may not be compatible either. That said, proceed with caution and at your own risk.
This guide will show you how to install the latest Nexus Android 6.0 Developer Preview 3 software. This is something you can do from Windows, Mac, Linux or ChromeOS. There are multiple ways this can be done, and lots of things that can go wrong, but below are the easiest steps without spending hours setting up all of Google’s developer software.
How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS
Before you can install the Android 6.0 Developer Preview to the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or others 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 difficult parts of installing Android factory images, but several simple 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 6.0 on a supported Nexus device.
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 hours 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 M system images provided by Google onto your device. Remember to head into settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first.
How to Install the Android 6.0 Dev Preview Now
The first thing you need to do is download the just released Android 6.0 Developer Preview 3 System Image for your device. You can find them at the links below. You’ll have to agree to the terms that this is a preview copy only, and then proceed. We’ve already noticed a few features missing, so again, proceed at your own risk.
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 M 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 is not bootloader unlocked you should do that first. We could not install any Android M System image and update with the device locked. This will wipe your device and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. Repeat, this will erase everything!
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 Factory Image
Now open the folder containing the unzipped Android 6.0 Dev Preview 3 System Image file you just downloaded. Type cmd in the address bar. Type the following commands posted below 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 Android 6.0 to your Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, or even the Nexus Player.
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 and update your device to the just released Android 6.0 Marshmallow final developer preview. 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. You may run into an issue, which we did and will explain below.
Update: Many users may experience a “missing system.img” error and the installation will be aborted. This is because the way you’re trying to flash the update. Instructions on how to get around this can be found right here. Essentially users will need to unzip the update.zip folder and move all the images to the original folder we mentioned above, then manually flash them one by one starting with the bootloader, then the radio, vs the flash-all command mentioned above. Only do this if you run into issues.
When the process finishes you can enter your information or Gmail account and start using Android 6.0 Marshmallow right now on Nexus smartphones and the Nexus 9 tablet. Give Google’s Tap n Go (automatically restore) a try using NFC to automatically restore and all apps, settings, accounts and more from another device. This was introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop and also available here. We went with a clean install to start things off fresh.
For those who’d rather not mess with this scary stuff, we’re expecting the official Android 6.0 update to arrive sometime later this year. Google promised a 3rd quarter release date for Nexus smartphones and tablets, and Q3 ends at the end of September. This means an official release could be here in the next 45 days along with the new Nexus 5 for 2015.
For now though, this is the only way to try Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and only if you have a compatible Nexus device. The Google schedule linked to above essentially confirms Android 6.0 will be released before the end of September, over a month earlier than Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop, so try the steps above or sit tight for just a little bit longer. Hopefully Samsung, LG, Motorola and other OEM’s quickly get updates to Android 6.0 Marshmallow out to all owners.