Google introduced Android L at the Google I/O, and for the first time, released a preview months before the stable version. The so-called L Developer Preview is targeting app developers, to help making the transition to Material design. Since we’re doing the same with Ready, I already flashed it on a Nexus 5 device; this post contains my experiences.
Although it is pretty stable (I used it as the main OS for about a month), there are some hiccups from time to time, which is completely understandable for a developer preview. The sad thing is, that it looks like there will be no updates to the preview. According to Rich Hyndman (Android Developer Advocate at Google), They’ll be some extras coming, like the 64bit emulator. But I don’t believe new device images are coming (source: Google Plus).
This how-to is intended for the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 (2013). However there are some ways of installing the L developer preview on different devices, officially only the aforementioned phone and tablet are supported. Do not try this tutorial with a different device!
This tutorial is written for a Mac (which uses OS X operating system), but is almost the same for the other operating systems. Everything detailed in this article is available from the official Android developer site, and you can find everything related to Android L here.
For the first step, you need to download the ADT bundle (ADT stands for Android Developer Tools) – you can do that by clicking here. If you only need the ADT bundle for installing the L developer preview (so not for development’s sake), choose the option titled get the SDK for an existing IDE, this way you don’t need to download the Eclipse IDE as well.
Next, download the system image – this is what you’ll install on your phone or your tablet. You can get it here, scroll down to the “Install the L Preview System Image” section, then select the one that fits your device.
From this step, things get serious – you should create a backup of all the data on your phone before continuing. You will need adb and fastboot (two small programs in the SDK you’ve just downloaded): go into the sdk subfolder, then navigate to platform-tools – open a terminal at this directory. Next, you’ll need to unlock the bootloader. Warning: this wipes all data on your phone, including photos, videos and apps. Connect your phone to the computer with a microUSB-cable, then simply type the following commands and follow the instructions detailed on your phone:
./fastboot oem unlock
After taking care of this, restart your device in bootloader mode. This can be done with the ./adb reboot-bootloader command, or by holding down the on/off button and the volume down rocker at the same time for a few seconds.
Next, you’ll need to flash the bootloader, the radio and the system image. Unzip the contents of the L preview system image zip, and copy them into the directory where the adb program is located (it can be found in the sdk/platform-tools folder). It should contain a batch script (titled flash-all.bat) for Windows-based machines, and a shell script (flash-all.sh) for Unix-based devices. For a Mac, you’ll need to use the latter; simply enter the following command to a terminal window:
Or you can do it by hand, with the following commands:
fastboot flash bootloader bootloader-hammerhead-hhz11k.img
fastboot flash radio radio-hammerhead-m8974a-22.214.171.124.08.img
fastboot -w update image-hammerhead-lpv79.zip
And that’s all: just wait for the processes to finish, and you’re done. Of course there is a good chance that you’ll eventually want to switch back to the original ROM. The process is the same as with installing the L developer preview – the factory images can be found on the official site.
Andras Kindler is an Android developer always on the lookout for new tech, working currently on Ready. Feel free to connect with him via Twitter (@andraskindler) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) anytime.