Getting early Developer Preview software on your Pixel has always been a bit of a task, requiring downloads and some knowledge of how a command line works. But now Google has a new tool you can run right in your computer's web browser to flash Android 11 on your Pixel. All you need is a USB cable and a little time on your hands, and you can be up and running in several minutes. Here's how you get it done.
Getting your phone ready to flash
The Android Flash Tool supports flashing Android 11 onto the Pixel 2, 2 XL, 3, 3 XL, 3a, 3a XL, 4 and 4 XL.
Before you can plug in and flash, you have to have your phone set up to accept the commands and software from the phone. This requires enabling developer settings, USB debugging and OEM unlocking.
- Go to your Settings and scroll down to System and tap About Phone.
- Tap on the Build number seven times until a dialog box says "you are now a developer."
- Go back to the System menu and you should find a new option called Developer options.
- Make sure that the developer options are turned on and that USB debugging is on.
- While in Developer options, turn on OEM unlocking.
Now, time to turn our attention to the computer.
Using the Android Flash Tool
Once you have your phone set up to be unlocked and addressed by the computer, plug into your computer and follow the steps below to flash. The Android Flash Tool works best in the Chrome browser (of course), and yes it will work on a Chromebook.
- Head to the Android Developer Preview website and locate your device under the "Android Flash Tool Link" list.
Each link is specific to that phone and that software build, so make sure you're selecting the proper device. It will open a flash.android.com link with the information for your device and build pre-filled.
Click get started and you may be greeted by a pop-up reading "Allow site access to your ADB keys ..." — click "OK" to proceed.
- Click Add new device, and then select your phone from the pop-up menu.
- If you're on Windows and your phone isn't being recognized by the computer, chances are it's a driver issue.
- Try downloading Google's drivers, or visiting your phone manufacturer's support website for drivers.
On the next screen, if your phone is listed as "Auth pending", unlock your phone and select Allow on the pop-up. Back on your computer, the phone will then switch to a green "Connected" — click it to begin.
Now this is where you double check everything — that the right phone is connected, and more importantly that the right build is selected. This build information is pre-populated based on the link you clicked earlier, so if you're at all in doubt, double check.
- If you happen to click the build, do not select any additional options or change the build number — this could cause irreversible issues with your phone.
Click Install, and then on the next screen click Confirm and let the site go through all of its steps automatically. Your phone will restart and move to/from the bootloader automatically. Do not touch your phone or unplug for any reason.
When using Windows, in the initial stages of the process, the tool may ask you to unplug and re-plug your phone; this is the only time it is okay to do so.
- The process will begin with a download of the data, which may take some time depending on your internet connection speed and the size of the update. Many updates are nearly 2GB in size, and could take a while. Do not unplug the device regardless.
- As a precaution, it's best to not switch tabs or change windows to something else on your computer. The process will only take a handful of minutes, and switching windows could cause an issue. We don't want issues.
- The page will tell you when it's all finished, right around the same time you see your phone reboot to the Google logo with a small progress bar, indicating it's starting up after finishing the installation.
It's a bit of a process to explain, but when you're going through the steps yourself it's quite easy. Just follow all of the prompts and heed the warnings along the way, and you'll be up and running with the new Android 11 software in short order.
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