Just when you started getting used to KitKat, Google changed things up and announced Android L. Mountain View’s latest mobile operating system won’t officially be available to the masses until the fall, however there’s a way to check out L before its big debut and we’re going to show you the easiest ways to do it.

For starters, you’ll need either a Nexus 5 or Nexus 7. If you don’t have one of these devices, you can pick up Google’s latest purebred smartphone brand new for $330 shipped or a manufacturer refurbished 16GB Nexus 7 for $130. If you need more storage space, we’ve also found a deal on a refurbished 32GB Nexus 7 for $170. Once you’ve secured your hardware, you’re ready to get this L party started.

As a heads up, these software installs require a little technical know-how, so make sure that you’re comfortable operating a computer and following command prompts, as there are some risks when flashing a device.

That being said, here’s what you’ll need to do to get Android L running on your Nexus 5 or Nexus 7:

Windows

  • Download the installer file found here, which includes the Android ADB and fastboot tools.
  • Follow the setup instructions and wait for the command prompt to show up.
  • Download the appropriate file for your respective device: Nexus 5 or Nexus 7.
  • Enable debug mode on your device by tapping Settings>Developer options>USB debugging and connect it to your computer.
  • Download the Google USB driver from here and extract the zip file.
  • Connect your device to your computer and go to the control panel in Windows and select Devices and Printers. Select your device from the list, right-click on it and go to properties. Update the driver, and point Windows to the folder in which the extracted the USB driver is located. This will bring up a sign listing the device as an Android Composite ADB Interface.
  • Power down your device but keep it connected to your computer. Start the device using the correct key combination to switch to “fastboot” mode. to do this, hold the volume control buttons, as well as the power button simultaneously on your device. You can type “adb reboot bootloader” to do this, as well.
  • If the lock state shows up as locked, type in the command: “fastboot oem unlock” at the command prompt and select enter. The will format the device, so make sure you have a backup of your important data.
  • To install the Android L, type “flash-all” and the process will begin.
  • When installation is complete, lock your bootloader again by starting the device in fastboot mode and typing in “fastboot oem lock.”

Mac

  • Download the Android ADB and fastboot tools found here.
  • Download the image file for your respective device: Nexus 5 or Nexus 7.
  • Unzip the file and place it inside a new folder called “Google” on your desktop.
  • Extract the contents of the ADB Fastboot file from within the “Google” folder and keep them in the same folder as your image file.
  • Enable debug mode on your device by tapping Settings>Developer options>USB debugging and connect it to your computer.
  • Open Terminal mode and navigate to the “Google” folder that you created. For instance, if your Google folder is on your desktop, enter “cd Desktop/Google.”
  • To reboot into the bootloader, type: ./adb reboot bootloader.
  • Run the installation script by entering: ./flash-all.sh.
  • Your device will then reboot and you’re all set.

A few things to consider

This version of Android L is a developer preview, so you may encounter a bug or two along the way. We’ve been tinkering with this build for a little while now and here are a few things you can expect if you decide to install it. Good luck and have fun!

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