Essential Phone owners are about to enter an elite club. The Essential team announced on Twitter that a beta version of Android 8.0, otherwise known as Oreo, is available to download and install, though only through side-loading. An over-the-air (OTA) update is not yet available, however the final Oreo release for Essential Phone will be delivered that way, presumably sometime soon.
According to the release notes, biting into the beta Oreo release could result in increased battery drain when Bluetooth is enabled. Essential also warned that the beta build may break Android Auto functionality on some automobiles, though it did not get into specifics, such as what makes and models are not compatible at this time. The company also did not mention if either or both issues will be resolved once the final polished build is available.
There are not a lot of devices or users running Android 8.0 Oreo at the moment. Google's developers dashboard for Android indicates that just 0.3 percent of Android devices are running the newest version, compared to 21 percent that are running Android 7.x Nougat. Nearly a third of devices—30.6 percent—are two generations behind with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and more than a quarter are still running Android 5.x Lollipop. Finally, Android 4.4 KitKat is the oldest build to still have a double-digit percentage in Android market share, at 13.8 percent.
If you own an Essential Phone and want to install the beta Oreo build, first check to see that your device is up-to-date by going to Settings > About phone > System, then tap Check for update. If all is good, you can proceed. You will need the latest ADB tool (don't forget to either add adb to your PATH environment variable or change into the directory containing the executable). In addition, you will need to set up USB access for your device, as described here. And of course you will need the beta Oreo build.
Once the basic housekeeping is done, you can move onto these steps, as outlined by Essential:
- Download the appropriate update image to your computer.
- Verify the checksum of the image. The OTA mechanism has a built-in validation feature, but verifying will save you some time if the file is incomplete. The last portion of the filename is the first 8 digits of its SHA-256 checksum; the full SHA-256 checksum is also shown next to the download link.
- Make sure USB debugging is enabled, then execute: adb reboot recovery.
- If you're unable to use ADB to reboot into recovery, you can use the key combination for your device. Then, navigate to the Recovery option by pressing the Volume-down button. Once Recovery is highlighted, press the Power button to confirm.
- Hold the Power button, then press the Volume-Up button one time. When the menu appears, select Apply update from ADB.
- Run the following command: adb devices. Then check that your device shows up with “sideload” next to its name.
- Run the following command: adb sideload ota_file.zip where ota_file.zip is the name of the file you downloaded and verified Once the update finishes, select Reboot system now to reboot your phone