After months of waiting and beta testing Google finally released Android 10 for the Pixel family of smartphones on September 3rd. In this guide we’ll show you how to install Android 10 today on your Pixel device, or how to get the update.
While these updates arrive automatically via an over-the-air update system and notification, it’s not always “automatic” or on time. If you’d rather not wait and want the update right now, follow these steps.
How to Update the Pixel to Android 10
- Pull down the notification bar and tap the gear-shaped Settings button
- Scroll to the bottom and tap on System and then choose Advanced
- Tap on System Update
- Now just tap on Check for Updates
From here your phone will say the system is already up to date and you won’t get anything, or there will be an update waiting for you to download. We recommend only downloading this on WiFi, and your phone will say the same. In fact, if you’re on WiFi it’ll automatically start downloading and let you know when Android 10 is finished and ready.
Once the update is downloaded you’re all set, as it installs in the background for you. Now, simply tap on the Android 10 update notification to reboot your phone and enjoy the latest software. It’s that easy. Keep in mind that Google does what’s known as a “staggered rollout” and not everyone will get the update today.
Read: What’s New in Android 10
If you’d rather not wait and want it right now, you can manually install Android 10 today with a method known as sideloading. Here’s how.
How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS
Before you can flash the Android 10 update to your Pixel, Pixel 2, or Pixel 3 you need to install ADB and Fastboot on your computer. This is a program that runs on your PC/Mac to connect to your Android device through a USB cable and flash Android software to a device. If you’re not familiar with the Android SDK, we recommend you skip all of this and just wait for the easy over-the-air update.
Installing ADB and Fastboot is one of the most annoying parts of installing Android factory images, but several tools make it dead simple these days. Alternatively, Google has an entire guide on ADB and flashing the files.
Those running Windows can download a 15 second adb installer to simplify the process and get up and running in only a few minutes.
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 install ADB/Fastboot systemwide and to install Drivers. When a new window pops up follow the steps to install the drivers. Now, let’s install Android 10.
How to Install ADB on Mac, Linux & ChromeOS
Nexus Tools makes it easy to install ADB on a Mac, Linux or even ChromeOS. Simply open a Terminal on the computer and paste in the code from XDA. Open a terminal by going to search, and just type Terminal to open it. Then copy/paste that code to get started.
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 finishes type ADB or Fastboot to start running either process. This is how you start flashing files or system images provided by Google. Remember to head to settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first. Not to mention newer devices need to enable “OEM Unlock” in developer options so you can unlock the bootloader and flash the latest software. If you did this when you flashed Android P or even Android Oreo a few years back, you don’t need to install it again.
How to Manually Install Android 10 on Pixel
The first thing you need to do is download the Android 10 factory images. A factory image is basically a file that contains everything you’d get from an over the air software update. Click the links below for each device and agree to the terms and download it. Then, continue following our instructions.
As expected, only recent devices are able to enjoy the latest Android 10 software release. Those being the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL and the Pixel 3 XL. The Nexus 5X or 6P or the Pixel C tablet all will not get Android 10.
Download Android 10:
- Google Pixel (2016)
- Pixel XL (2016)
- Pixel 2
- Pixel 2 XL
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3a XL
It’s worth noting that Google has TWO images of Android 10 listed for each device, and we’re not sure why. So, maybe wait for more information on that before immediately jumping on these installs.
Otherwise, download the file for your device then keep reading to get Android 10. Next, you need to unzip these files to a folder you can easily access. We unzipped it to our MAC desktop. After you have the Android 10 system image unzipped you need to find it. Then type cmd into the address bar on Windows, or open a terminal and direct it to this new 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. Right-click, open Terminal at Folder.
If your Pixel is not bootloader unlocked you must do that first. You can’t manually install Android on a locked device. This process will wipe it out completely and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. Repeat, this will erase everything! If you installed any prior betas, you already did this, so skip it.
Open a Terminal in the adb folder and type the command below then hit enter.
adb reboot bootloader
In Fastboot type:
fastboot oem unlock (or flashing 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. If you don’t want to wipe out your phone, wait for the second Android P developer preview, as an easy update beta program will likely arrive with it.
Google Pixel users will need to use “fastboot devices” and then “fastboot flashing unlock” to unlock the bootloader. Then proceed to reboot and follow our steps.
Flash the Android 10 Images to your Pixel Phone
Next, open the folder containing the unzipped Android 10 System Image file you just downloaded from our instructions above. Type cmd in the address bar. Then, type the multiple commands posted below and hit enter. Or copy and paste them to avoid making mistakes. 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 option to open Terminal. Or just do it from the desktop where you unzipped the Factory image as shown below.
Once in the terminal simply copy and paste the commands below to install Android 10 to your Pixel 1,2,3. The first line is the command for Windows, then Mac second.
This will flash all the needed files. If you are on a Mac or other computer you will need to type;
This will push all the files and update your device to the new Android 10 software. The files will start sending and installing and your device may reboot. The logo boot screen may stay for a long time. Do not unplug the device. This may last 10 minutes or longer the first time. When Android prompts you to complete setup you can unplug your Pixel.
It’s worth noting that some users may experience a “mke2fs failed with status 1” or a similar error depending on what device you’re flashing. If you see the status 1 failure, you simply need to edit the flash_all script and remove the “-w” line at the bottom of the file. This is a step most seasoned Android users do anyway, so they don’t “wipe” out the device while flashing the latest software.
For whatever reason, wiping userdata fails on newer Pixels. In the factory image file you downloaded, open and edit the flash_all file and scroll to the bottom. Remove the -w as shown in red. This prevents the flash from wiping out your device and gets around the status 1 error.
Then, another error “missing system.img” might stop you from getting Android 10. This is because the way you’re trying to flash the update. Instructions on how to get around this are 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, vs the flash-all command we’re using here. Only do this if you run into issues with missing images. It takes a few more steps but works all the same.
When the process finishes you can enter your information or Gmail account and start using Android 10 and everything it has to offer.
Personally, I’d avoid all of this mess and simply wait for the update to arrive. We’ve been enjoying the Android Q beta for several months but already got the official Android 10 OTA update on our Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3. So, you probably have it waiting, or can manually download it using our first step at the top of this post.
Basically, don’t do all of this unless you have to or you’re super impatient. Also, you can easily enroll in the Android Q beta program, flash the beta, then get the OTA to Android 10 official. That’s an even easier way around this process. If you’re not experienced with ADB, we recommend skipping these steps and waiting for the official update to hit your device. We’re expecting easy to install over-the-air updates to hit Pixel devices within the next 24-48 hours.
Additionally, those who choose to wait for the OTA update do not need to wipe out their device. Android 10 will install right over Android 9 Pie, and you won’t lose anything. Drop a comment below if you have any questions, problems, or concerns. Otherwise, try Google’s new software that doesn’t have a tasty name.
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