It’s official: Google has released Android Oreo. After months of developer preview releases, the newest version of Google’s operating system is available in finished form for the Nexus 5X, 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, and Pixel XL.
There are currently two ways to get it. The easiest is via an over-the-air update, which obviates the need for a computer and USB cables. Google says that the Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P builds have entered carrier testing and will roll out soon, alongside the Pixel C and Nexus Player. Alternatively, if you’re the impatient sort, you can download factory images from Google’s Android Developer page and install it manually.
If you want to take a crack at it, here is how to install Android Oreo. We should caution, however, that the first release of any OS is often the buggiest. There could be bugs that brick your device, so make sure you back up your data before you do anything.
Don’t own a Nexus or Pixel devices? Not to worry. Google says it’s working with partners including Essential, General Mobile, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo by the end of this year.
How to flash the factory image
Flashing the factory image differs from installing the over-the-air (OTA) update in that the factory image contains the full system files for your device, whereas the OTA update contains only the upgrade information. In other words, flashing a factory image is more like completely deleting all the software on your device and replacing it. The OTA will only replace what is being changed since your last update.
Some people prefer to install the OTA update since you don’t have to do a factory reset, while others like the factory image method because it’s like starting from scratch with a fresh install of the entire system. It’s more of a pain to factory reset your device, but you are less prone to some of those annoying bugs that seem to crop up after an OTA update.
Remember to make sure all your data is backed up, because you will lose all your data on the device when you unlock the bootloader, which is required for flashing. There is no way to unlock a bootloader without a factory reset. However, if you happen to already have an unlocked bootloader, then you can forgo the factory reset if you wish. We will show you how later on, but we still recommend that you back up your data in case something goes wrong.
Installing ADB and Fastboot
In order to flash the factory image to your Nexus or Pixel device, you must have ADB and Fastboot installed on your desktop computer. ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge, and it allows you to send commands to your Android device over USB through a terminal/command-line interface such as Windows Command Prompt. Fastboot allows you to unlock the bootloader on your Android device.
There are two methods to getting ADB and Fastboot on your computer. The first is to download and install the Android SDK tools from the Android developer site. This will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. If you’re a Windows user, you can download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot instead, which is the easiest method. However, we recommend installing the Android SDK tools because the download will also give you the Google USB drivers at the same time, which you will need in order for your computer to recognize your device. If you do decide to install Minimal ADB and Fastboot, you can still download the Google USB drivers separately. We will show you how to do that later.
Follow the instructions below for either installing the Android SDK tools or Minimal ADB and Fastboot.
Download and install the Android SDK tools
- Click here to download and install the Android SDK Tools from Google’s developer site. There are choices for Windows, Mac, and Linux. These instructions are for Windows machines.
- When asked what directory to install the software to, we recommend that you set it to C:android-sdk. If you choose a different location, just make sure you remember it.
- Once the Android SDK Tools are installed, launch the download from the Start Menu.
- The SDK Manager will open. Just uncheck everything except Android SDK Platform-tools and Google USB Driver. Android SDK Platform-tools is at the top and Google USB Driver is toward the bottom.
- Click on Install 2 packages at the bottom right.
- Check Accept license and click Install.
ADB and Fastboot will now reside in the C:android-sdkplatform-tools folder if you followed step 2 as outlined. If you chose a different directory, than ADB and Fastboot will reside in the platform-tools folder under whatever location you chose to install the Android SDK Tools to in step 2.
Download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot
- Click here to download minimal_adb_fastboot_v1.4.2_setup.exe from the XDA forums. Note: the version number could be different if a newer version is released after this post has been published.
- Launch the minimal_adb_fastboot_v1.4.2_setup.exe file.
- When asked which directory to install the software to, we recommend that you set it to C:android-sdkplatform-tools, since we will be using that location for the rest of this guide. If you choose a different location, just make sure you remember it.
Downloading the Android Oreo factory system image
Now it’s time to grab the most recent version of the Android Nougat or Android Oreo factory image. Click on the link to download the appropriate file for your device:
- Google’s Android Developer site – Android Oreo updates
Just make sure to select the version that matches your device. This is very important, because you must flash the Pixel image on a Pixel. A Pixel XL image won’t work on a Pixel.
You will notice that each device has a bunch of links under it. Google makes it easy to revert back to an older update if you wish. The most recent update is generally at the bottom of the list. Android Oreo is available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.
Note: Google posts factory images for each and every update. This means that you can follow this guide again and continue to get the latest version of Android Oreo right away without the need to wait until your device receives the OTA update automatically.