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How to upgrade from Android Lollipop to Android 6 Marshmallow

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Upgrade your Android phone to Google’s latest OS

Since its announcement at Google’s I/O conference back in May, Android 6 Marshmallow has been at the forefront of any Android ultras’ mind. The nagging questions of “when’s it coming?” and “when can I upgrade?” have been on Android users’ minds since that announcement, but starting from 5 October Google will officially begin to roll Marshmallow out to phones.

Updating your phone to Android Marshmallow is an incredibly simple task – follow the steps below – although when it becomes available is very much dependent on your phone manufacturer and mobile carrier. This could take anywhere between one and nine months to happen.

Android Marshmallow upgrading via “over the air”

Once your phone manufacturer makes Android Marshmallow available for your device, you can upgrade to it via an “over the air” (OTA) update. These OTA updates are incredibly simple to do and take only a couple of minutes.

  1. Open your phone and head to the “Settings” panel
  2. In “Settings” scroll down until you find an “About phone” option, tap it
  3. In “About phone” tap “Software update” to check for the latest version of Android
  4. Be aware that you may have to update your phone to the latest version of Android Lollipop before Android Marshmallow becomes available. You’ll need to be running Android 5.1 or higher to update to Marshmallow seamlessly
  5. Once downloaded, your phone will reset and install and launch into Android Marshmallow

How to force an Android Marshmallow upgrade (via factory image)

For those who feel a little braver with their phone update and really want to get their hands on Android Marshmallow before anyone else, Google does offer Android factory images for download.

However, this process is only for advanced users. Using an Android factory image will wipe all your data, so make sure you backup your phone’s contents before you update.

Generally, Google only releases factory images for its Nexus devices, so if you run one of those, you can definitely upgrade via this method. For those using other phone models, be warned: while the images will work, they may not be optimised to run on your phone properly.

Currently, Google hasn’t made the Android Marshmallow factory image available for download, but when it does, this is how you can upgrade your nexus device.

  1. Download and install the latest Android SDK on your computer
  2. Add the SDK folder to the PATH:
  • In Windows:
    1. Open My Computer | properties
    2. Advanced System Settings
    3. System Properties | Advanced | Environment Variables
    4. Select Path, then click Edit and type in directory for where you installed the SDK (remember, each entry is separated by a semicolon)

  • In Mac OS X:
    1. Make a note of where SDK ZIP file is unpacked to (by default it ends up in a directory called “android-sdk-mac_x86”)
    2. Open Terminal and paste “echo ‘export PATH=$PATH:/Android/android-sdk-mac_x86/tools’ >> ~/.bash_profile” to set PATH

  • Enable USB debugging on your Android device in Settings | About phone | Software information
  • If you haven’t already enabled Developer Mode, tap the “build number” seven times to activated it
  • Once done, go to the newly accessible “Developer options” menu in Settings. Tick “USB debugging”
  • Download the factory images for each device (Google will make these available once launched)
  • Extract the image on your computer and connect your Android device to the computer via USB
  • Boot your phone into fastboot by holding down the volume up, volume down, and power button when turning your device on. If you don’t own a Nexus device, here’s a list of other ways to boot into fastboot
  • Open up a command terminal on your computer and execute “flash-all.bat” to install the necessary files and OS onto your phone
  • Once done, Google recommends you lock your phone’s bootloader for security. This is done by rebooting your phone back into fastboot mode while connected via USB and then execute “fastboot oem lock” from a command terminal on your computer
  • That’s it, you’re done!
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