Nexus 7 Resurrection – Again


3 October 2017 – This will be my second post related to my old Google Nexus 7 (Grouper) and bringing it back to a usable state. I previously touched on it with this article.

So let’s bring things up to date. CyanogenMod’s Nexus 7 revisions worked great initially. Then updates continued on a regular basis, but also accomplished the same end game that Google updates did. The tablet just bogged down to a crawl in performance as the updates rolled out.

For about 9 months, I relegated it to performing as a picture frame. Always on and scrolling through family photos on my desk.  And it was frustrating knowing that this old tablet had more storage than more modern Android devices.

But it was always there. Staring at me. Showing me photos that were important to me. And I always felt it had more potential. When I finally came across some free time, I started scouring the searches and found this Top Best Custom ROMs for Nexus 7 (2012)”. Exactly the kind of article I was looking for.

Once again, I don’t recommend this for those who may suffer impatience, ignore instructions or are unwilling to attempt this more than once. And remember, although improbable, there is a chance to ‘brick’ your device.

Do your homework in advance and be organized. As a reminder, I already had TWRP loaded from the first resurrection so I was a bit ahead of the game. I performed a factory reset and wiped the DALVIK during the process. Of course, all the data was backed up except for the OS. I made sure that I reviewed the key steps for all the elements and had links to alternatives (like GAPPs) in case links were out of date.

Ultimately I chose AOSP. It’s Android 6 and includes the 2016 September security fix, which covered one of my concerns. But it wasn’t so current that all the ‘next great ideas’ created excessive bloat. Going through the load, I actually had to attempt it twice, but was finally successful after ensuring I completed both a factory reset and wiping the DALVIK.

I’m not concerned with regular updates for the bleeding edge roll out because this old tablet just can’t hack newer stuff.

Dolphin browser was a part of the OS and I was very surprised at how well it works. The OS reminded me that this was a good tablet and I was right to hang onto it. Putting it on an older skinnier OS without a lot of the progressive add on’s and enhancements that come with normal tech growth really helped.

So, what do I do with it? It will be an alternate tablet. I use it as an eReader, media streamer, news tablet, and podcasts. And I’ll still use it as a digital photo frame. I love the reminders of good things. 

Breathing new life into a Nexus 7 original

I own an old Google Nexus 7.
It was relatively inexpensive and delivered a true current Android experience  most of it’s life. But, as with most things techie, it eventually couldn’t keep up.  
It’s an old single core processor but with a decent amount of memory. I truly appreciate Google’s Nexus plans of putting out new hardware and then sending the latest OS’s out. Eventually, whether it was the old hardware or the more demanding OS or just the combination of both, but getting it to boot and run an app inside of five minutes was driving me crazy.
Eventually, I did a little homework and decided to try a new OS. Or, I should say variation on Android.
Quick lesson. Every Android device that is circulated has some level of development and testing done to make an Android operating system work with whatever it’s installed on. Samsung has people that do it for their phones and tablets. LG has people doing the same. Most of the time with that testing they add their own personal touch in the form of bloat ware. In effect, a bunch of extra programs that are typically redundant and often look for money.
Then, there is the open source community of Android OS developers, similar to the world of Linux developers. I’ve always liked Open Source. 
I made the commitment to change the OS for my Nexus 7. I chose Cyanogenmod because it seemed to have the largest and most supportive community. And the community was on the latest versions of Android. Cyanogenmod list links and basic steps if you search hard enough. 
From a high level, you rooted your device, you load a recovery program (like TWRP), you download the OS (Cyanogenmod), you download the proper version of gapps (google apps) and then follow the script. Yes, it formats your Nexus’s memory. But knowing I might be able to use it rather than toss it seriously appealed to my frugal and my geek side. 
So what was the prognosis? It was a positive one. The process went easy and smooth. No, it didn’t make my Nexus 7 perform like it had a quad core cpu. But, I could once again surf the web reasonably. I could stream videos from Netflix. I could once again use it with a bluetooth keyboard for documents or chatting. And, a surprise I hadn’t anticipated was that CyanoGenMod makes it easy to keep your hardware current by checking something they call their nightly updates. Every new one that’s available, like the one following Lollipop or stagefright updates, I check for system updates, download it to an internal directory, boot into recovery mode and perform an update. After it completes the update, you’re on the latest version.
So, if you have an old Android phone or tablet and have time or just like techie stuff like this, give it a shot. I feel better now that I have a secondary tablet. Are you up for it?