How to update Nexus 7 to Android 4.4 KitKat

Posted on November 16th, 2013 in Hardware & Software by andrija

Google apparently isn’t capable of letting everyone get their updates at the same time. Or even in the same week. Whatever their excuse (they do have one but I don’t buy it), there is a way to update manually. It isn’t easy, of course.

First you need to download and install the Android Development Tools SDK. Then you need to put your Nexus 7 (or whatever you have) into developer mode by tapping the build number in “about tablet” screen 7 times. Then reenter the settings menu and you will have new item “developer…” someething. In there, enable USB debugging. Then you need to connect the tablet to the PC, open a command prompt where you installed (or rather, unzipped) the SDK, go to the platform-tools folder and then run “adb devices”. You should get the “list of devices attached” and one more row with the serial number and name of your device. Of course, good luck having that happen. You may need to install drivers, which is a royal pain on Windows (but requires no effort on MAC or Linux). Some people have developed a separate universal driver (more like, a hack) which you can find here. I can’t vouch for its safety. Why can’t Google provide drivers for their own devices, at least, is beyond me. UPDATE: Google does seem to provide drivers but they aren’t automatically installed (plug and play my ass). You need to do the “classic” Windows driver experience which is going to devices screen (the old style one, not the new one) and find your device which should be having an exclamation mark.  Then, choose to manually install driver (which you can then select from the list). Find more on pdanet (google for it, I guess). Anyhow, once that is installed, plug in your Nexus 7 again and it will prompt you (on the tablet) to allow PC to connect in debug mode. Now try “adb devices” again and it should work.

Next, you should backup your tablet. See here. In short, use “adb backup –all –f backup.ab” where backup.ab is the name you wish to give to your backup.

And finally, download the 4.4 update from Google, for your specific device, in this case Nexus 7. Make sure to download OTA update, which is a signed zip file, not the commonly shown .tgz file – smartasses from internet cannot be bothered to explain this and Google cannot be bothered to show links to those either. Then, follow this guide. It should preserve your data but in case it doesn’t, you can use “adb restore backup.ab” to restore your tablet.

All in all, certainly a whole evening effort to get this done. Google really sucks at this.