Update Google Nexus 7 to Android 4.1.2 without loosing root

Google recently started rolling out an Android 4.1.2 software update for the Google Nexus 7 tablet and some other devices including the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The update lets you view the home screen in landscape orientation on 7 inch tablets, and includes performance and stability improvements.

But there’s one thing you might want to know before installing the update — you’ll lose root access or any custom recovery you may have installed when you upgrade from Android 4.1.1 to Android 4.1.2 using the over-the-air update.

If you want to keep root access though, there’s an app for that.

These instructions will walk you through the process of updating a Nexus 7 tablet from Android 4.1.1 to Android 4.1.2 while keeping root access. Note that the process may be different for other devices — and this doesn’t apply at all if you’re running a custom ROM such as CyanogenMod 10.

Protecting root access

If you have a rooted phone or tablet, all you need to do is install and run OTA RootKeeper before installing the operating system updated.

OTA RunKeeper is available as a free download from the Play Store. The first time you run the app, you should see a pop-up asking if you want to grant it root permissions. Tap the yes button.

Then tap the big button in the center of the screen that says “Protect Root.” Once you’ve done that, the box that says “Protected su copy available” should be checked.

After that’s done, it should be safe to go ahead and install the Android 4.1.2 update. Note that it will still kill your root privileges and overwrite ClockworkMod or TWRP recovery with the stock recovery — but as long as you’ve protected your root, you’ll be able to restore root access with a tap of a button.

Install the update

If you see a notification alerting you that an update is available, just tape the notification and it will take you to the updater.

If there’s no notification, try going to your settings menu, scroll down and select the “About” option near the bottom of the screen, and then choose “System updates.”

From there you should see a message letting you know what the update does (sort of), and asking if you want to restart your tablet and install the new software. You can also check for updates if there’s not one waiting for you.

Or you can download Android 4.1.2 for the Google Nexus 7 directly from the Google servers and install it using TWRP or ClockworkMod if all else fails.

Restore Root

Once you choose the reboot and install option, it should take about 5 to 10 minutes for your device to install the update and reboot into Android 4.1.2.

When that’s done, you won’t have root access anymore — until you fire up OTA RootKeeper again and this time choose the option to ”Restore Root” rather than protect it.

That’s it. You should now have root access again and be able to use apps that require root permissions including Titanium Backup or root file explorers.

Installing Custom Recovery

A custom recovery utility makes it easy to flash (install) software updates, make a complete backup of your system, or make other changes in a pre-boot environment.

Once your tablet is rooted, the simplest way to install a custom recovery is to install the free GooManager app from the Play Store, open the menu, and choose the option to “install OpenScript Recovery.”

That will download and install the TWRP custom recovery on your tablet. You can boot into it at any time by opening the GooManager app again and choosing the “Reboot Recovery” option.


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