This morning Google announced that the brand new Android M update is available right now for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player as an early developer preview, and this guide will show you how to install Google’s latest Android update today.
Google is offering developers and those willing to try it now an early Android M beta of the upcoming Android update months ahead of the expected November or October release date. Google just released the factory images for all of the devices mentioned above, and below we’ll explain how to update to the latest release right now.
The Android M System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android M on the Nexus 5, 6, 9 or Player. This is essentially everything that you would download as an OTA update for regular Android updates.
With Android M that was just unveiled this morning at Google IO, the company has introduced a slew of new features, improvements to battery life, Android Pay and 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 it now.
Before we start it’s worth noting that this is not official software that average users should install to their daily devices. This is an extremely early developer preview (beta) of Android M for testing and getting apps prepared for all of the changes, and may not be 100% stable or functional. We’ve already installed it ourselves that appears to run great and will have a hands-on video posted soon, but for now, proceed at your own risk.
This guide will show you how to install the latest Nexus Android M Beta software release. 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 M Preview to the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, 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 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 M Beta 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 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 M Beta Now
The first thing you need to do is download the just released Android M Developer Preview 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 the 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 Image
Now open the folder containing the unzipped Android M System Image file you 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 the Android M beta 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 M developer preview beta. 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.
It’s worth noting that some 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, 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 M today on your Nexus devices. Give Google’s Tap n Go (automatically restore) a try using NFC to automatically restore and 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 toy around with all this stuff, we’re expecting the official Android 5.2 (0r Android 6.0 M) update to arrive sometime later this year. Google mentioned a 3rd quarter release date for Nexus smartphones and tablets, and we’ll update the moment we know more. For the foreseeable future this is the only way to try Android M right now.