Good things come to those who wait, but it comes to those who sideload faster

It's the time of year that we all start thinking of Android version updates (or the lack of them) and that means we are getting impatient. New hardware, like the Nexus 5, on the scene running the new version doesn't help much, because it's naturally going to dominate the news for a while. Those of us that aren't buying the new shiny for one reason or another sit and patiently wait for our turn.

Then when we finally get an announcement that an update is coming, we're ready. Of course we still have to wait, because Google, manufacturers and carriers like to have what I call a #trollout — where they take their time and gradually pass out the goodies slowly, hitting just a few at a time and never you. It can be infuriating.

All that can go away once someone a bit handy gets the OTA. They can download and mirror it, it even get the URL so we all can download it ourselves and apply it with a little bit of work and a few tools. These vary by device type, but you can always fins someone in the forums that knows how where and why to get it done. 

So do you wait for your turn, or do you pounce as soon as you have the means? I won't lie — the second I have a URL I'm all over it. I won't speak for anyone else here (but we all totally jump on those links, we're Android fans) or for you guys, because we have a poll where you can speak up on your own. You'll find it in the sidebar to the right or after the break (depending on how you're reading this). Let us know how you do what you do, then hit the comments for discussion about why. 

There are 84 comments

alainlafond says:

Yes I do!
What a pleasure of being one of the first carrying a new iteration of Android.
Did it yesterday with the help of Jerry.
My Nexus 7 is working very well with my new 4.4 system...
And as soon as the Nexus 4 is out, for sure gonna sideload it...
Thanks again Jerry and Android Central!

Same here. I wanted to wait but curiosity got the better and so i spent all day trying to do it and it finally worked. Def love the update!

lion7718 says:

Once the N4 update is out I'll sideload also.

g0d5hand says:

People saying 4.4 enables LTE on nexus 4

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jiggaman says:

Why wait for an ota when you can just side load it? Only exception is if I already have the update via a custom rom.

AlyarbankHQZ says:

I sideload on my Nexus 7. On my samsung note 2 I just run very old software and wait and wait.... & wait some more.

I always have my personal 17-step process ready for sideload. Thanks Jerry and AC for the OTA links. If its from Jerry, it is worthy of sideloading. Waiting for Nexus 4 4.4!

Lyndon Fagan says:

flash mine today, took me a while but finally got it to work.

jdevenberg says:

I do not always do, but I do on occasion. If it is an update I'm really excited for that contains a feature I really want, then yes. If its a minor update with nothing exciting, I don't waste my time.

Gekko says:

no. like the great Remo Gaggi once said - Look... why take a chance?

vlad514 says:

Did anyone notice that Adobe flash no longer works with Kit Kat update. Bummer.

TeknoBug says:

Adobe is done with Flash, may as well not bother.

drokssilva says:

Also, flash hasn't been available for android (officially) since android 4.1

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bumpandrun says:

No Flash ever on my HTC One which originally had 4.2.

bleached says:

It has been years now since I have run into a website or video that was not viewable because of flash. It is a non-issue now.

John-Smith says:

People still use flash?

jonovw says:

What's flash?

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He's the savior of the universe...

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campanth says:

I tried to wait for the KitKat OTA for my Nexus 7 (2013). But I gave in and sideloaded it last night. ;-)

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prowler01 says:

Same for me on my Nexus 7 (2012).

still1 says:

as always updated via custom recovery

Schwack says:

I tried to sideload my N7 last night and gave up. I followed the steps but when I typed in the adb devices line, my N7 was listed as unauthorized. So I googled that message and to correct it looked complicated. So I gave up....will hopefully wait for the OTA....

dyinman says:

1. Turn on your N7.
2. Once booted, connect it to your computer.
3. Look back at your N7 and authorize ADB debugging from that computer. It is a prompt you need to respond to on your N7.
4. Retry the sideload.

alainlafond says:

I had an error message also.
I did re-installed the 4.3 firmware. Then re-activate USB development..
Then the sideload went like a brezze.
Sure lost everything.
But as I do install rom often, I always a backup ready to re-install.
I got it rooted with SuperUser and TWRP and worked very good, as for now...

CoolBeit says:

I usually load the factory image myself the minute it's available. Why wait? And I have seen OTAs cause just as many problems/bricks as sideloading.

eahinrichsen says:

I sideload. I used to just flash via CWM, but I'm not able to unlock and flash a custom recovery anymore, because that breaks compatibility with Good Messaging, which i have to use for my corporate email.

It's nice to have the ability to force updates even without having to unlock the bootloader.

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Nope. I am patient (or I pretend to be). I have no problem waiting for the OTA and not worrying about messing things up.


This. In the past, I would have sideloaded or flashed via CWM, but I know I'll eventually get it. Besides, I was lucky to get my Nexus 5 early, so I already know what to expect from KitKat.

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MrJazz says:


TeknoBug says:

Of course if my device is rooted then I'm likely to flash an update, also before I rooted my HTC Desire I flashed the latest WWE RUU (Froyo 2.2) when Telus refused to release an update until a year later. Eclair 2.1 at the time had a serious security hole when using wi-fi on public networks, as I travel a lot, it was an issue for me and flashing to Froyo fixed that IIRC.

Mayoo614 says:

Nexus One : Yes - Because HTC are dorks
Nexus S : Yes - Because Samsung are dorks
Galaxy Nexus : Yes - One time to switch to yakju - Because Samsung are dorks
Nexus 10 : No - But Samsung are still dorks
Nexus 5 : No - ... obviously

Those are all of my Android devices I ever got, right after *picks up bucket* HTC One Diamond *fills bucket*. As you can see, I sideloaded only things that were out of reach.


Haha, awesome.

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engineerga says:

I am patient and wait. I don't want to take a chance on screwing something up and fragging my phone. When Verizon pushes it out, I get it. If it screws something up, then I will call tech support and have a leg to stand upon trying to get it fixed or my device replaced because it wasn't my fault.

n0obpr0 says:

I did it once and that's it.

maverick999 says:

I REALLY want the KitKat update for the HTC One Google Edition. I'll be sideloading that update ASAP!

Buckintown says:

'have to admit I'm sort of digging my brand new Kitkat/ice cream/Jellybean/ Nexus S 4g with that sweet, curved now-none-over-saturated-color screen. Viewing angle on this thing has always been insanely impressive.

cookemandan says:

Why wouldn't you. It is painfully easy and faster.

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vansmack says:

I haven't waited for an OTA update since I switched to the Nexus line. I have always sideloaded my Nexus S4G, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10.

My old Samsung devices I used to wait for the OTA.

y2whisper says:

This was the first time I did thanks to your post

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miknxn says:

Let it come when it wants. The fun is in the wait!

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NickLippert says:

Just sideloaded my first last night using your guide for my N7. On my phones I usually have them on CM before any carrier update is released.

Joe H. says:

On any of my "skinned" devices I'll usually flash CM or something. But on any Nexus' I'll leave them completely stock and patiently wait for the OTAs

eahinrichsen says:

You can leave your device stock and sideload over ADB. The process we're talking about here is not the same as flashing a ROM via a custom recovery.

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bumpandrun says:

I might try it for the first time with my HTC One.

wagonis says:

Damn straight I do!

A wise man by the name of Jean Jacques Rousseau once said; "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." No thank you Mr. Rousseau, I like grapefruits.

Impulses says:

No, patience is a virtue.

Seriously though, I've taken a semi zen approach with my new Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 (2013). I unlocked their bootloader and rooted them but left recovery (and everything else) stock so that I can just take the OTAs wherever they may come.

After tinkering a lot with custom ROMs (and kernels, and recovery) on my last three phones (HTC EVOs) I'm kinda taking a break from it, a lot of the mods that I used to want out of ROMs were either fixes to an OEM's odd decisions or stuff that's just part of stock Android now (even battery percentage!).

I'm sure something will eventually draw me back or pull me towards CM. I know this is somewhat unrelated to sideloading an OTA but for me it's an all or nothing proposition. If I'm not gonna be tinkering at all then I can damn well wait patently for the OTA to find me and download itself.

Oh and yes, I realize that unlocking/rooting still amounts to some extent of tinkering, but it takes little effort (not that sideloading an OTA takes any more) and does open up the use of a bunch of root only apps.

dyinman says:

Custom recoveries have zero to do with sideloading. Sideloading uses STOCK recovery, ADB, and signed packages.

wagonis says:

^^^ that.

Installing an OTA by side loading is way different from installing custom recoveries and custom ROMs. Installing the OTA by side loading is just applying the same OTA without your OS automatically confirming your device and updating it with a direct download.

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Jay Shank says:

I sideloaded 4.4 on 2012 Nexus 7 and its working awesome since problem..installed GEL and its great..
I'm wondering that did i lose my warranty by doing it?
Just out of curiosity i wanna ask.
Will i get future OTA update from Google in About menu or i have to do sideload every time there's a update?

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Impulses says:

No in the warranty, yes in getting future OTAs.

Impulses says:

I know this, which is why I said:

" I know this is somewhat unrelated to sideloading an OTA but for me it's an all or nothing proposition. If I'm not gonna be tinkering at all then I can damn well wait patently for the OTA to find me and download itself. "

I just relate it in my kind because of the manual nature of the process. As much as I enjoyed messing around with custom ROMs (and some devs make it super seamless with their own updater etc), I kinda loathed that update day process of looking into bugs, figuring out if my ROM's dev is alive/on vacation, etc.

I stayed on a stock recovery this time precisely so I don't have to sweat anything (and I realize sideloading is just forcing the OTA process manually), it comes when it comes (only bonus being that it's a lot easier to do that and retain root access on a Nexus).

In the end it's all about choices, and Android gives you a ton of choices, particularly Nexus devices. Stay stock and wait, root and wait, side load if you want it nao (rooted/unlocked or otherwise), dive in and mess with custom ROMs if you want it nao but your way... It's your choice. No other mobile OS can beat that atm.

afazel says:

I'm usually rooted with an unlocked bootloader by that point, so nope.

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Impulses says:

The two things are not mutually exclusive, nor does one require the other (tough you obviously know that much).

Some will unlock and root but actually leave everything else stock (including recovery) precisely so that they can take OTAs, and they may very well choose to sideload them if impatient or exited for the update.

Unlocking (or even rooting) doesn't mean you have to go for a fully custom ROM or even flash factory images only (which often take a little longer to show up than the OTA packages anyway).

chas0001 says:

This is the first time I have sideloaded on my Nexus 7. It was pretty easy and quick. I will definitely do it again.

Just waiting for Kitkat on my Note 2. Apparently it will be arriving in 2015. I just love the way Samsung pushes out updates so damn fast!

nathans77 says:

I do, but it's after the initial responses of everyone else. If it's going bad, then no. :)

Duncan1982 says:

Well loads of pro's and Con's to being patiant and impatiant lol

Patiant for OTA-This often means that its tested to the extremes (patiance that is) waiting for your carrier to push it out is fustrating, especially if its optimization updates. If its just needless and not needed then thats fine. This can also have its pro's as one or two on here mentioned if that update has any issue's and fries your phone rendering it useless then someone is reaponsible (Not you) therefor it should be replaced without fuss hmm lol

Impatiant- So Sideloading well you are then soley responsible but you have the update alot faster than OTA- what are the stats on bricking or any issues arrising? Im guesing minimal by the amount flashing roms-sideloading, rooting ect ect

Still i often just wait patiantly, endlessly for that update to arrive.

I may opt for the sideloading option though as OTA is just rediculous. If its that update that has a vast improvement to how my device operates.

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GMC MaXx says:

I side loaded 4.4 on the Nexus 7(2012). Then added the updated search apk and Nexus 5 launcher apk. Pretty sweet. I'll wait patiently for my Nexus 7(2013) to update. ...unless I don't.

Schwack says:

Call me a newbie, but as I stated in the earlier post, I gave up after my N7 wasn't authorized in the adb device line. That was my final straw. I had to download the new SDK version which took a while. Then I realized my N7 was not in the Developer mode, so I had to google that....but when I read the instructions on how to authorize my N7, I gave up......figured I'd wait for the OTA......but who knows, if I don't get that soon, I might go back to the sideload..

NickLippert says:

Developer mode is just tapping the build number 7 times in 'about tablet' then you can allow USB debugging.

Duncan1982 says:

If sideloading was less complicated and as easy as OTA then im sure the poll would then read Why wait lol

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RobbieWT says:

I'll probably wait until the N4 factory image is ready, then check out Ubuntu for a few hours then flash the factory image.

trees247 says:


Zylograth says:

I do not believe my Nexus 7 has ever recieved a natural OTA update. It has always been sideload for me.

balthuszar says:

i've never left a phone non-rooted and rommed long enough to get an OTA...until now, i intend on waiting for the xperia z ota

TallyHo says:

My N7 2012 wouldn't recognize the drivers using adb in recovery mode so I had to search and search and finally found a solution using an ini edit. I quickly sideloaded for the first time. After the initial pain of getting the Sdk and drivers working it was super easy.

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Nope always wait for OTA

Posted via Android Central App from Nexus 7 2013

mixercub says:

9.9 times out of 10 I will. Prime example was with my GS4. Buddy and I both have Sprint and he had the update a week before I did so I went ahead and flashed the 4.3 update.

I wait because I want to be certain that I don't mess something up and I'm under the impression that as a Nexus 4 user, I might just get a release version that is better matched to my devise when Google is good and ready.
Philosophically speaking, a little patience goes a long way toward avoiding unpleasant surprises. The unforseen may still exist, but it's likelihood is greatly diminished.

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donse1 says:

Yip. I'm already running cm11 aka kit Kat on my gs4 i9505 :-)

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yacu malik says:

I ran the one for nexus 7. 2012 and have only few changes and seems to run slower.

flagg902 says:

I used to flash the ota's as soon as possible, but I find that Android has matured so much that I just don't need to. There is no killer feature in KK that I absolutely need to have.

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movielover76 says:

By the time an OTA comes out for a phone I'm usually on a custom rom, so I don't flash OTA's
If I happen to be in the mood for a stock rom, or want the update and can't wait for the rom I'm using to incorporate it.
I flash the rooted rom based on the OTA, which is usually out on the same day.

Chex313 says:

Normally I wait,hardly even use the N7. Last night though I was having computer night. Repairing a friends infested laptop.

That led me to use CM One click install on my now spare GN. Than that led me to update the N7. Hardly ever sit in front of that Desktop. Usually I use the MBA or game in the "Man-Cave" On the Overclocked gaming rig.

It was fun and both the GN and N7 updated perfectly...Thanks Jerry! Beer is on me!

Infinite7154 says:

I've sideloaded since I became a Nexus convert. I don't even use All-in-one root methods anymore. I get great enjoyment typing "fastboot....img" and everything getting done like it's supposed to. Helps me understand what's going on better.

Quick question, I downloaded the first hangouts apk then I downloaded the second with the video fix.. should I delete the first? Idk how this goes because i'm usually an OTA person but I just couldn't wait this time lol

rwong48 says:

I'm not completely sure how to answer this question, lol.

I don't use stock on my phones, so the question is N/A there (or does that mean "no"?)

I just got a 2012 Nexus 7. Decided to stick with stock for now, and I wanted 4.4, but the factory image wasn't up yet, so I sideloaded it. I was going to wipe it anyways, since it was brand new.

rap1 says:

I have an N7(2012)- unlocked and rooted but standard ROM -- and I wait because
1) Some updates just don't seem to be that great or slow down a certain device. I'll let someone else find the bugs and figure it out.
2) I like use WugFresh's root kit and I wait until it's ready.
3) The last few updates haven't seemed like I would gain that much so in the end I just didn't bother to go through the hassle.

TheBlueF0x says:

I pounce as soon as I have the means. When the factory 4.4 image was released this evening, I had it on and running within 20 minutes. I also threw on the GEL apk for the transparent nav/status bars, Google Now, etc.

Needless to say, I'm loving it. The sad thing is, I have an N5 laying upstairs in the box and haven't even opened this one (replacement because the first one was screwed up) because I love the size, feel, etc., of the N4. With this additions, it's perfect in every way.

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Gabranth says:

Sideloaded and rooted last night

akhi216 says:

I have sideloaded every OTA except my current one on VZW Moto X, and I have owned Android devices since the old school HTC G1. Once it is confirmed that an update will/is in fact be pushed over the air and I have a download link I go for it. I did not sideload my current update because I was happy with the phone.

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Robbzilla says:

I wait until a good pre-rooted iteration of whatever version I want is out, then side-load it.

meyerweb says:

I'm rooted, so if I want to try out an OTA I have no choice but to do a nandroid backup, and side load. Normally, though, I'll wait for a rooted version, or for my ROM of choice to get updated.

cnlson says:

I tried to be patient with my nexus 10,and I just couldn't. Man did I create a ton of work and stress for myself... Twrp can't flash the ota so I boot looped it five times with 6 restores before I finally got past those bouncing balls. With the help of people over in the xda thread on the downloads I found out I wasn't alone and how someone was able to flash using wug's nexus toolkit. And apparently Twrp has updated to which is supposed to support this ota.

cnlson says:

Apparently I am also not patient enough not to double click post...