In recent months, the developers of the Android OS have been working on Android “N”, even as Marshmallow/ 6.0 had just been released to the public. Android “N” now marked as 7.0 or Nougat is the latest in the long line of Android OS upgrades. But should you upgrade your Nexus 6P? Here, we take a look at why you may want to, as well as how to do so.
Why Upgrade to Android 7.0 ?
Unlike Android 6.0 Marshmallow, 7.0 isn’t a gigantic leap forward in terms of Operating System features or design. But, this hardly means it should be ignored, because what it does lack in innovation in these two departments, it more than makes up for in efficiency, security, and plenty of other minor improvements.
After updating to Android 7.0, you may notice that your phone will use less battery as well as less data from your network. One of the biggest issues to be resolved from Android Marshmallow was the tendency for the phone running it to run “hot” due to repeated callback attempts. This would happen when an app stopped functioning properly, or when synching did not occur in the expected manner. Users who have had short battery lives as a result of this may discover a charge lasting hours longer than before, and those gigabytes of data lasting at least a little longer than they had in previous months.
In terms of security, Android 7.0 Nougat offers two significant upgrades over its predecessor.
The first is that on the development side, more apps aimed at Android Nougat will have less permissions. Instead of letting apps have essentially free reign over your phone, many developers will have their apps limited only to folders within the phone that would be needed. For example, with android Marshmallow and before, if you gave an app permissions to access photo folders, all would be accessible. This would mean if you had an SD card full of photos, and just a few on internal storage you wanted to use for the app, both would be available to said app. In Android Nougat, with what’s called “Scoped Directories”, the app in question would be only able to access the internal storage unless explicitly stated otherwise.
The second is more on the user side, where Direct Boot has been implemented. Direct Boot more or less allows apps to function even after a reboot has occurred and you’ve yet to re-sign into your phone. Now, this does not mean that data encrypted by your login is available for either apps or users, in fact, that’s the major improvement for both security and functionality; Key features can still be accessed even if you don’t realize a reboot has occurred, while keeping your data safe at all times.
Now that we have covered some of the key features that may make you decide on upgrading to Android 7.0, let’s take a look at how to do so with your Nexus 6P. Methods will be introduced in order of simplicity, though even the most technologically modest individuals shouldn’t fear trying any of the options.
Step Zero: Back Up Your Nexus
Whenever you plan to do anything that messes with the files of your device, it is often a wise idea to back it up. The easiest way to do this is with just a few clicks using your Google account. First, to back up your contacts, tap People from the Home Screen, then select the menu. Tap accounts, then Google, then switch the Contacts to On (this will back up to your contact information, but not messages)
Next, if you want to keep all your passwords and app settings, go to the Settings menu, and select Backup and Reset. From here, you should see a switch that says “Back Up My Data”, select it to turn it on.
Lastly, if you have videos and photos you’d like to back up, open up the Google Photos app (if you deleted or never had this app, it’s available through the play store, and you can import files to do this). Next, go to the Menu button, select Settings, and then tap Back Up and Sync.
Method One: Wait for Nexus 6P to Get an OTA Upgrade
Given the release date of Android 7, and the fact that Nexus was among the first in line to get this update, there is a very good chance your new OS is hiding in plain sight. First, check to make sure you have at least 3GB of internal memory free to handle the update. To do this, go to Settings from the main menu, and then select Storage. If you don’t have the available space, deleting unused apps is your best option for freeing up memory.
Once this is done, go back to Settings, then About Phone. There should be a System Updates menu option, select it and then tap on Check For System Updates. If you find the update, simply tap on it and confirm the install. If not, we have a few work arounds to ensure you get the latest and greatest OS.
Method Two: Flash an OTA Update Manually
So, you’ve tried an over the air update, and for one reason or another it hasn’t shown up as available. Luckily, this still doesn’t mean you have to wait around for the next major update to have a chance at upgrading. This next method, while not as complex as to require the unlocking of your bootloader, can take a bit of time. First, you will need to download a program and a few files, as if you were going to unlock the bootloader and flash the image in standard fashion.
First, download the Android Studio Suite here, which includes multiple tools we will need to use. Next, we also need to download the OTA image, which we will side load into the phone. Once both are downloaded, transfer the .zip to the Platform Tools folder of Android studio, typically found within AppData>Local>Android>SDK.
Next, plug in your Nexus 6P via USB to your PC. If the phones model number appears as a popup notification, then you’re in luck. If not, there may be some drivers you have to download to properly get this to function. Now, go ahead and open the adb executable file found where you put the Over The Air .zip file.
Enter in the following (with new lines indicating where you should press enter):
adb reboot bootloader
Next, you will need to set your phone into recovery mode. To do this, use the volume button to scroll down to Recovery mode, and hit the power button once. After an image of Android with a red exclamation mark appears, hold down both the power and volume down button to enter recovery. Next, select “Apply Update from ADB”, and enter the following into the ADB terminal:
adb sideload (OTA.zip)
Where OTA.zip can be replaced with the exact zip folder name. After a few moments and a reset done by the phone, you should have your brand new Android Nougat OS available.
Method Three: Flash The Factory Image
Our next method takes a bit of downloading and acting more like a developer. Do keep in mind you will have to download and use several tools that if improperly used, run the risk of damaging your phone. While we are confident the methods below are safe in the way described, it is ultimately your choice to try or not try these methods. With that warning out of the way, let’s get into the deep end and get your Nexus 6P set up the way you’d like it.
First, you’ll have to set up developer mode on your phone. First, go on to Settings, and find where it says About Phone.
Next, tap on Build Number at least 7 times. You’ll see a message saying that Developer Options are now enabled. Go back to settings and tap Developer Options.
Now, ensure that Developer Options, Enable OEM Unlock and Allow USB Debugging are all turned on. This will allow us to manipulate the phone files via your computer.
With that taken care of, now we must focus our attention on your PC momentarily. While there are plenty of software options for unlocking the Bootloader (a key step in this process), I feel that the Nexus 6P is best served using the Android Studio IDE.
Aside from our purposes, you can also learn to make your own apps using this tool later if you so choose. To install this, simply download it via the big green button and follow the installer instructions.
Now that both your phone and computer are ready, connect your Nexus 6P to your computer via USB cord.
After there is a successful connection go ahead and open the ADB command line, typically found in the Android SDK folder found in AppData>Local. Once opened, type in the following commands, with the new line indicating where you should press enter:
adb reboot bootloader
Do keep in mind the next steps will unlock the Nexus bootloader, but also automatically perform a factory reset, so it is again encouraged you take a backup of any desired data before continuing any further if you haven’t already.
If you have a Nexus 6P running 6.0 Marshmallow, type the following in to the same command prompt:
fastboot flashing unlock
fastboot oem unlock
confirm you wish to continue on your phone, and the unlock will occur. Next, type:
fastboot reboot -bootloader
this will reboot the bootloader (as you may have already guessed) and allow us to flash in the needed firmware to get Nougat on the 6P.
Speaking of, we now need to download the 7.0 Firmware from the Nexus Factory Image page. Here, we will be looking for a firmware suite named “Angler” and the most recent build (at time of writing, NBD90X) and download the zip file. Once downloaded, extract the files to the same folder as the ADB to make the following process all the easier. Now, plug your phone back in (if it has been unplugged) and ensure that you are on your bootloading menu.
Once recognized by your computer, boot up ADB one more time and enter:
Now, we have to flash the full bootloader files, as well as the radio files to ensure functionality. To do this, enter the four following commands. Items in parenthesis are indicative that your specific file names go in their place.
fastboot flash bootloader (bootloaderupdate.img)
fastboot flash radio (radiofile.img)
Lastly, we can update the software and finally start enjoying your 6p with a new OS. To do this will require a wipe for your phone (though all data has likely been wiped already by this point). Find the .zip with the new OS, and type the following:
fastboot -w update (flashimage).zip
Now, just wait for a few moments and your phone will restart with a walkthrough on how to use Android 7.