The Google Nexus 7 is an Android tablet with a 1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a 7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, and a starting price of just $199. It’s also Google’s latest flagship device aimed at least in part at developers.
So it should come as no surprise that it’s extraordinarily easy to unlock the bootloader. It also hasn’t taken independent developers long to figure out how to root the tablet and install ClockworkMod Recovery.
In other words, it’s now possible to run apps that require root privileges, make a complete backup of your device, and take the first steps toward installing custom ROMs (although it will be a while before anyone comes up with custom ROMs that are quite as feature-packed as the Nexus 7’s stock software, since it’s the first tablet to ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean).
Unlocking your bootloader will erase all personal data on the tablet, so if you think you might want to unlock the device it’s probably a good idea to do so before installing any apps or using the Nexus 7 for an extended period.
Basically all you need to do is install the Android Software Developer Kit on your computer, open a terminal or command prompt, go to the platform-tools directory, plug your Nexus 7 into your computer and run the following commands:
- adb reboot bootloader
- fastboot oem unlock
After the first command your tablet should reboot into the bootloader. Wait for that to happen before typing the second command which should unlock the bootloader.
You can find more details instructions at the xda-developers forum. That post also has information on rooting the tablet, installing SuperUser and ClockworkMod Recovery.
If you’re looking for a one-click tool that will do all of those things for you, developer m.sabra has an app for that.
Google has also released the factory image of the Nexus 7 software, which means if you seriously mess up your tablet after rooting it and playing around with the software, you should be able to flash Google’s disk image to restore the tablet to its factory default condition.
The Nexus 7 is available for purchase from the Google Play Store, but it isn’t expected to ship to customers until mid-July. Google gave away about 6,000 tablets to developers at the Google I/O conference this week though, so there are already a number of the tablets in the wild.
One of those early Nexus 7 owners has bundled all the apps that come on the tablet into a single ZIP file which you can download if you want to try any of the default Nexus 7 apps on your own phone or tablet.
Another user discovered that you can install a free app on a rooted Nexus 7 to enable support for USB flash drives and other storage devices. Out of the box, this isn’t something the Nexus 7 supports. If you have a rooted tablet, you can download the StickMount app from the Play Store to add support for external storage.