Getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Update October 5: Android Marshmallow is available for select Nexus devices as an OTA update right now!
Android is the world’s most popular operating system, installed on billions of devices around the globe, which is why it’s so exciting that Google has brought out a brand new, better-than-ever version: Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
As usual the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update brings a range of improvements and new features, and while it will debut on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, it will also be made available to most modern Android handsets for free.
The Android 6.0 Marshmallow update is usually doled out by your handset’s manufacturer and it can take some months for updates to the new operating system to be made available as the manufacturers test the new software to make sure it’s compatible.
If you don’t want to wait that long, however, there are ways to download and install Android 6.0 Marshmallow right now. If you’d rather wait for the update to be made available by your handset’s manufacturer (an easier and slightly safer way of doing things) then keep an eye out for any news on when your device will be officially updated.
Is your device compatible?
At the moment only the preview version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow has been released, and only for Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. This process can be attempted with other Android devices, but at the moment we really wouldn’t recommend it, as it’s likely to end in failure – or even a broken phone. You have been warned.
When the full version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow is released, a much wider range of handsets will be supported, and we’ll update this article when we know more about all the handsets which will be able to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Back up your device
Before you begin updating your Android device to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you should first back up you phone. Upgrading to a new operating system always carries the risk – no matter how minimal – that something could go wrong, and upgrading Android is no different, especially if you’re updating to a version your smartphone doesn’t officially support yet.
Backing up your smartphone means that in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you can restore your photos, videos and other data quickly and easily. Also the method that we’ll be using to manually update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow means that your device will be wiped – so you’ll want to back up no matter what.
If you just want to back up your photos, then one of the quickest ways is to plug your Android device into a PC via USB and then view the phone in Windows of Mac OS X and browse to the DCIM folder and copy it over.
You can also make your Android handset automatically back up your photos to the internet by opening up the Photos app and clicking on the menu icon (three short horizontal lines in the top-left corner of the screen). Tap on Settings > Backup & sync and then make sure backup is turned on and it is connected to your Google account.
Also ensure that the built-in backup feature of your phone is enabled – to do this go to Settings > Backup & reset and make sure both “Back up my data” and “Automatic restore” are checked.
This covers the basics, but to make sure absolutely everything is backed up, check out our comprehensive guide to backing up your Android device.
Enable USB debugging
Now you need to turn on USB debugging. To do this you’ll need to turn on developer mode in Android, so open up Settings and scroll down to “About phone.” Tap that button seven times and it will tell you Developer options is now enabled – you should now see it in the Setting page. Tap it, and then turn on USB debugging.
You’ll also need to enable OEM unlocking – but be warned that this will erase everything on your device.
Download 15 seconds ADB Installer
You’ll need an additional tool installed in Windows to add Android Marshmallow to your device. The program is called 15 seconds ADB Installer, and to download it from its website, scroll down to where it says “Version 1.4.2,” click on the link, select Begin Download, then install the program.
A window will appear asking if you want to install ADB and Fastboot. Type Y on the keyboard to agree. Press Y again when asked to Install ADB system-wide and if you want to install device drivers. A new window will open to start installing the drivers. Allow this, then click Restart now to reboot your PC.
The program will now be installed to C:adb (if C: is your default hard drive).
Download Android 6 Marshmallow
Head over to Google’s Android Developer website which will list a number of hardware system images of Android 6.0 for you to download.
Each hardware system image is for a separate Nexus device, so make sure that you download the correct one for the hardware that you’re going to be installing Android 6.0 Marshmallow on.
After clicking on the correct hardware system image it will download as a.tgz compressed file. Once downloaded you’ll need to extract the files and folders using a program such as WinRAR. Locate the file you downloaded (in our case we downloaded the file called shamu-MPA44I-preview-62b9c486.tgz for the Nexus 6), right-click it and select “Extract files…” and extract the files to the adb folder you created in the previous step (eg C:adb).
Flash Android Marshmallow onto your device
Now you can put Android 6.0 Marshmallow onto your device. Turn off your device and plug it into your PC. Now you need to start it in fastboot mode – to do this on the Nexus 6 press and hold down the Volume Down and Power buttons on the handset. For the Nexus 5, press and hold both Volume Up and Volume Down, then press and hold the Power button.
For the Nexus 9, press and hold Volume Down, then press and hold Power and for the Nexus Player just press and hold down the Power button.
Once your device has booted in fastboot mode, open up the folder on your PC where you extracted the Android 6.0 hardware image to. In the folder there will be a file called flash-all.bat. Double click this to begin installing Android 6.0 Marshmallow onto your device.
Your device should now reboot and all being well you should have Android 6.0 Marshmallow up and running.