The Google Nexus 7 is the first Nexus series tab manufactured and delivered by Asus. The outrageous 7 inches tablet is more of a phablet; combination of a smartphone and a tablet. But an Android’s potential is unseen until it goes custom. To ease it for you, we are always here. On a whole, we will instruct you step-to-step on how to easily take your Nexus 7 to the Custom path, beginning with Unlocking the bootloader, rooting the device, followed by Installing Custom Recoveries and ROMs. Before proceeding any further, its very essential to know of what you are handling or dealing with, so I will put on some general Information and terms for your reference.
The methods and procedures described here are meant for advanced users. If you do now know what it means and what effect it can have on your device, better not proceed. Droidviews or the developers of this procedure will not be responsible for any kind of damage held to your device either in the past or in the upcoming future. You are about to perform all the actions on your own risk.
General Terms & Information:
Unlock Bootloader: A bootloader is a boot initializing component which is generally locked by the device OEM, to avoid any messing around with the OS. We need to unlock it for the need to customize/change the OS. Once unlocked it will enable us to change the boot sequence and modify the OS in accordance of our needs.
Rooting: It is a process of gaining root privileges over an Android subsystem. Rooting an Android device is easy in most cases, like ours. If you will to Install custom ROMs, kernels, other patches or addons to your Android device, rooting is what you will need. It can be achieved in two ways; either by manual method (using fastboot) or by automatic method (using toolkit or software) . We are going to guide you with the manual method by using fastboot commands.
Custom Recoveries: A linux/ unix operating system employs a recovery system and the same implies for Android. A custom recovery is a modified variant of the stock recovery based off of the AOSP source code. It adds enormous features like wiping partitions, flashing flash able .zip files like ROMs, kernels, patches etc to the stock device recovery.
Custom ROMs: These are the aftermarket Android firmware which are not official supported by the device manufacturer. They are made available to the Android users by Android developers all around the world. Custom ROMs are either built from Google’s source code i.e AOSP (Android Open Source Project) or are modified versions of the device manufacturer’s ROM (Stock ROMs or Factory ROMs) with additional tweaks and extend functions which are not delivered with the Stock ROMs. Some of the popular Custom ROMs include CyanogenMod (CM), Android Open Kang Project (AOKP), MIUI, Codename Android (CNA), Oxygen, ParanoidAndroid and many more.
Google Apps (Gapps): Android devices. Most of the applications can now be found and updated via the Google Play Store. Some of the apps include the Google Play Store itself, Google Talk, Google Sync (for adding and synchronizing Google accounts), Google Backup Transport, Car Home, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Search, Google Voice Search, Google Music, and Google Docs. In some ROMs, the Google Apps are included. These are usually stock ROMs, smaller or less-common ROMs, or those from areas where intellectual property laws are less commonly obeyed. But many AOSP ROMs, most famously CyanogenMod and AOKP, do not include the Google Apps due to licensing issues. They are after all proprietary code owned by Google and not included in the Android Open Source Project
A PC with Windows OS.
At least 60% of the device battery to ensure no random reboots and shutdowns during the process.
A USB data cable for undisturbed connection between the PC and the device.
Backup your Internal storage, Contacts, Text messages, calender and all other required stuff to be on the safe side. Backup your contacts, call-logs, messages, APNs, bookmarks, calendar, apps & games using these nice free apps.
USB Debugging enabled: Go to “Settings” > “Developer Settings” and enable USB Debugging mode.
Download required files. [Download Here]
Extract the downloaded “Nexus7_files.zip” to the desktop of your PC. So, now you have a folder named “Nexus7_files” on the desktop which contains all the files we need during the process.
How to unlock the Bootloader?
Make sure to backup your storage completely before proceeding any further since this step will erase everything off your storage.
Connect the device to the PC via a USB data cable.
Go to the Nexus7_files folder on your PC’s desktop. Now press the shift key and right click anywhere on the free space, select “Open Command Prompt here“.
Now, type in the following command to reboot your Nexus 7 into the bootloader mode.
adb reboot bootloader
You have your N7 in the bootloader mode, ready to hit by the commands.
Type in the following command to initiate the unlocking process:
fastboot oem unlock
You will now be prompted to confirm, so highlight “Yes” by the volume buttons and select it using the power button.
Fore now you have your bootloader unlocked successfully.
You shall now proceed to install a Custom Recovery on your tablet.
How to Install Custom Recoveries?
To install CWM Recovery touch variant, type:
fastboot flash recovery CWM-T.img
To install CWM Recovery non-touch variant, type:
fastboot flash recovery CWM.img
To install TWRP Recovery, type:
fastboot flash recovery TWRP.img
Since now you have a Custom Recovery installed, you can put forward your eyes towards rooting your tablet or Installing a custom ROM.
On this note, if you only desire to use the stock ROM, then rooting is the choice but if you will to experience a whole world of customization then using a Custom ROM would be much recommended.
How to Root?
Download the SuperSU binary flashable zip package here.
Connect your tablet to the PC in USB Mass Storage mode.
Now, place the downloaded CWM-SuperSU-v0.99.zip into the root of your device’s storage (not in any folder).
Disconnect your tab from the PC and reboot into Recovery mode.
To reboot into to recovery, power off, press the volume down and power buttons simultaneously until you see the bootloader screen. Now use the volume keys to highlight “Recovery” and select it using the power button.
For CWM, go to Install zip from sdcard > choose zip from sdcard > select the CWM-SuperSU-v0.99.zip earlier placed on the root of your storage. Select “Yes” when prompted to initiate the flashing sequence.
For TWRP, go to Install > select the CWM-SuperSU-v0.99.zip earlier placed on the root of your storage. Slide the button to initiate the flashing sequence.
You have successfully rooted your ROM. Begin with Installing apps and scripts which require root permissions.
Download addons, if any provided by the developer.
Connect your Nexus 7 to the PC in USB Mass storage mode.
Place the downloaded, ROM, Gapps and addons zip files to the root of your device’s storage (for ease).
Power off the device, press the volume down and power button altogether until you see the bootloader mode. Now use the volume keys to highlight “Recovery” and select it using the power button. Your Nexus 7 shall now boot into the Recovery mode.
For CWM: wipe data/factory reset
Go to “mounts and storage” and format /system & format /sd-ext (if any).
Go to “Install zip from sdcard” > “choose zip from sdcard” > select the ROM zip file earlier placed on the root of your storage. Select “Yes” when prompted to initiate the flashing sequence.
After Installing the Custom ROM zip package, flash the Gapps followed by the addons in the very same manner.Once flashed, select “Reboot system now“.
Go to “Wipe” and wipe off everything except “External Storage“.
Go to “Install” and select the ROM zip file, slide the button to initiate the flashing sequence.
After Installing the Custom ROM zip package, flash the Gapps followed by the addons in the very same manner.
Once flashed, go to “Reboot” and press on “System“.
So, finally after not much of struggle, you have easily flashed a Custom ROM on your amazing Nexus 7 without any glitches.
Your steps on going custom comes to an end here, unlocking all the potential of the marvelous device.
If you’ve got any queries, tips or more guidance regarding this guide then feel free to comment and share your thoughts and feedback. Its very much appreciated.
Dhananjay (DJ) is an Android enthusiast, a ROM Developer, a Tech Blogger and a responsible Son. Seeking and working hard on his ambition to join the Google Android Developers Team. You will either find him cherishing moments with his pals or working on his Android devices. Current devices include Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus S, HTC Desire Z and LG Optimus One.