How to Manually Update the Nexus Player with Google’s Factory Images

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Flashing Google’s Factory Images to a Nexus device is a pretty straightforward process, but it can be a little more daunting on Nexus Player since it doesn’t technically have its own display. The good news is that the process isn’t all that different from other Nexus devices.

While Nexus Player will normally update itself over-the-air, there are times when flashing an image may be necessary: if the unit malfunctions (soft bricks), if you just want to start over, or if you’re too impatient to wait for the update to hit your device. All feasible reasons to opt for the manual method.

Before we get started, a little prep work is necessary on your PC. You’ll need to install the Android SDK (Software Development Kit), and the most recent version of Platform-Tools, which can be installed directly from the SDK. Once those are installed, you can add adb and fastboot to your Windows System Path if you’d like to streamline the process.

With your PC ready to go, you’ll need to enable USB Debugging in Nexus Player’s Settings menu. From the Settings menu, head into “About” and then click on the Build Number 7 times. This will enable the Developer Options menu.

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Jump back into the Settings menu and navigate down to the newly-enabled Developer Options menu. Scroll down until you see Debugging, and enable it. The system is now ready for ADB and Fastboot access.

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Go ahead and plug a USB cable into Nexus Player’s microUSB port, then into your computer. (You’ll need to keep it plugged into your TV as well during this process, so it’s probably best to use a laptop.) A USB debugging warning should show up on the Nexus Player when you plug it into your PC, asking if you want to grant debugging access to this computer. Go ahead and click the box, then accept.

Assuming you already have your Nexus Player Factory Image downloaded and extracted, you’re ready to flash it. If you set up adb and fastboot in your Windows system path, go ahead and navigate to where your factory image is installed and Shift+Right Click, then choose “Open command window here.”

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If not, copy and paste adb.exe and fastboot.exe to the folder with the extracted factory image files in it (flash-all.bat, image-fugu-XXXXXXX.zip, etc.). Then, shift+right click and choose “Open command window here.”

Reboot your Nexus Player into the bootloader with the following command:

adb reboot bootloader

The Nexus Player should reboot into the bootloader, which will take a few minutes. From here, you won’t be able to interface with the device using a remote. If you need to physically interact with the bootloader, you can do so with the button on the bottom of Nexus Player—a quick press will navigate through the menu, a long-press will execute the selected command.

If you haven’t done this before, you’ll need to unlock the device’s bootloader:

fastboot oem unlock

It should fail the first time, asking you to re-send the command. This will format the device, so be aware that you’ll have to start over from scratch when you boot it back up. Considering it’s never a bad idea to wipe the device when flashing a new image, this is probably a good thing anyway.

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With the device unlocked, go back to the folder with the extracted files on your PC and double-click the “flash-all.bat” file. This will essentially automate the flashing process. Thanks, Google!

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The device will reboot several times, so don’t stress the first time you hear your computer make that “device disconnected” noise. Just let it do its thing.

When the process is finished, the command prompt will give the “Press any key to exit” dialog. If there were no errors during the process (seriously, read the flippin’ log!), then you’re good to go.

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Occasionally, the flash-all.bat script doesn’t work like it should. And by that, I mean it doesn’t really work at all. If that happens, you’ll have to manually flash the image. Just hit this guide up, then scroll down to the “What to do if the script doesn’t work” section. That should take care of it for you.

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at HTG, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, spinning legs on the bike, chugging away on the 6-string, or being disappointed in the Bulls.