Yesterday, we were surprised to learn that Google would begin rolling out Android 4.4 KITKAT upgrades to owners of several older Nexus devices, including both Nexus 7 units, the Nexus 10 and the Nexus 4. While the data-enabled versions of the Nexus 7 tablets will be a tad delayed, the WiFi versions should be getting them by the end of this week.
If you don’t feel like waiting for the OTA upgrade you can also manually download and flash it yourself. Here’s a quick primer on how to do just that for the 2013 Nexus 7 WiFi, but before we continue you’ll need to remember one key thing: this is your device, and your device alone.
Anything you do to it as a result of these instructions is at your own risk, and you assume all responsibility. Do not try this on anything other than a 2013 Nexus 7 WiFi. It’s also worth noting you might void whatever warranty you still have, so keep that in mind before moving on.
Before you begin
There are a couple of things you need to take care of before starting, natch.
- You’ll need to be on a completely stock build of the latest official Android 4.3 firmware (which would be JSS15R). Head to your development community of choice to find instructions for returning to stock firmware if you aren’t already on it.
- You’ll need to download the Android SDK if you haven’t already. This will give you access to ADB and fastboot, which is needed to push and flash the files you need over USB.
- You’ll need the OTA upgrade file for the 2013 Nexus 7 WiFi. You can find it on Google’s servers here.
With all of that in place you should be ready to go. Let’s get into the thick of things!
How to flash Android 4.4 KITKAT on the 2013 Nexus 7 WiFi
If you have taken care of everything above, it’s time to flash! (No, not in that way. We’re not sickos here.) This process is pretty simple, so be sure to take your time, read all of the instructions word for word before trying it yourself, and pay close attention to detail. PS: we’ll be assuming that you named your update file KitKat.zip in these instructions.
- While booted into the OS, go to the Development menu and make sure USB Debugging is on.
- Take KitKat.zip and place it in the “platform-tools” directory of your Android SDK folder.
- Turn off your device. Power it back up by holding the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. This will boot you into fastboot mode.
- You should now be seeing an Android logo with a red exclamation mark. This is where you want to press Power + Volume Up at the same time. This will get you into the recovery.
- Plug your device into your computer using a USB cable.
- Navigate to the second menu option — “apply update from ADB” — using the volume up/down keys, and select it using the power button.
- Open a command line interface on your computer of choice, and navigate to your aforementioned “platform-tools” directory (this is to make sure ADB and the update file can be found without having to use full path names).
- Type “adb sideload KitKat.zip” without the quotation marks, remembering that “KitKat.zip” should be replaced with whatever custom name you gave your update file.
- From here, the device should take the wheels and install the package. You’ll see a nice progress bar zoom to 100% and poof — you’re done!
- Reboot the tablet.
This process doesn’t wipe the tablet, so your settings, apps and everything else should stay in tact whenever you get back to the system. Remember that you will have lost root at this point, but it’s easy enough to get that back.
If you need help with any of this, you’ll find a community full of members willing and able to lend a hand over at the All Things Root section of AndroidForums.com’s Nexus 7 section. Be careful, be safe, but have fun!