I have a Google Nexus 7 that I’ve been pretty pleased with since I bought it new back in 2012. As with all Android devices it’s had its share of software updates along the way and I’ve never had any problems with those. Generally I’m cautious of major operating system upgrades, but given my track record with this device I decided to give Lollipop a go when the update announced itself on my home screen back in December. Surely Google would have tested their latest OS with their own devices I reasoned …

Big mistake. HUGE!

The new operating system wrecked my Nexus; it became totally unusable.

I was annoyed, but I thought maybe I’d just gone a week or two early and there would be another update along soon to fix things.

Wrong again :(

So finally I gave in (about 10 days ago now) and reverted the device to Android 4.4 (KitKat). Even though I’m a developer, I’d never flashed a device before … and I don’t particularly want to do it again. But here is what I had to do … so I don’t forget.

  • I installed a copy of the Android SDK from here: https://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html#Other.
  • I used the SDK Manager to install the Android SDK Platform Tools as well.
  • I downloaded and unzipped the factory image I needed from here: https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/images
  • I enabled the Android development/debugging options on the device.
  • I restarted the device in fastboot mode by running: adb reboot bootloader
  • I unlocked the device’s bootloader by running: fastlock oem unlock
  • I ran the flash-all script that came with the image.
  • I had a well deserved cup of tea.

Actually, it wasn’t quite a smooth as that.

For one thing I had to fiddle a bit with paths and permissions (I was doing it on Linux) – but that’s pretty much par for the course with these things.

Also I tried to use the latest 4.4.x image at first and that didn’t work – I got various memory allocation errors running the flash-all script. But after a few failed attempts at that (and thinking that I’d now wrecked my tablet completely) I went back to the 4.4 image and that worked perfectly.

Finally I should say that I didn’t bother backing up my device before flashing it. Anything important was in the cloud anyway.

The result is that my Nexus 7 is back on KitKat and working perfectly again. Now I just have to keep ignoring all the update messages!!!