The Pixel/Pixel XL is the best Google has to offer from their Android ecosystem. However, unlike the Nexus devices, modifying the Pixel has been tricky and developers are still trying to find a way around its complications. Recently, Chainfire successfully rooted the Pixel, freeing it from the shackles and giving the users the freedom to customize their device.
The incredibly popular Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP) has been the go-to custom recovery for Android enthusiasts looking to modify the software on their device. XDA Developer Dees_Troy has just released the first TWRP Alpha for the Pixel/Pixel XL and can be flashed as the recovery on your device, provided it’s already unlocked.
- A Windows PC
- USB Cable
- Google USB Drivers
- Minimal ADB & Fastboot
- At least 60% battery remaining on the device
First, make sure you have unlocked the bootloader of the Pixel. If not, you can follow this tutorial here to unlock the Pixel, till STEP 5.
We now need to download the necessary files. Download the appropriate files for your model (Pixel, Pixel XL). Copy the .zip file to the internal storage of your device and move the .img file to the location of Minimal ADB & Fastboot and rename it to “twrp.img” (no quotes). For most people, it is usually C:\Program Files (x86)\Minimal ADB and Fastboot.
Now, reboot the device to bootloader mode and connect it to the PC. Open up Minimal ADB and issue the command fastboot devices to confirm the connection. We’ll need to temporarily boot up to TWRP by issuing the command:
fastboot boot twrp.img
Once we have issued the boot command, your device will retrieve the twrp.img file from the computer and boot into TWRP.
To make TWRP survive reboot, navigate to Install and flash the .zip file we copied earlier. The zip file contains an automated installation script which handles the rest. You should now be able to boot to TWRP regularly.
Since this is an Alpha release, bugs are inevitable. Developer Dees_Troy has outlined a few issues to be aware of.
Due to the introduction of File Based Encryption (FBE) in Nougat, data restoration might pose a problem. Quoting the developer:
File Based Encryption (FBE) can be a tricky. If a restore doesn’t work correctly, it can trigger an automatic wipe of your data. I’ve tested it a little on my Pixel XL, but I haven’t had time to test it extensively. Sometimes TWRP will fail to prompt you to enter your password or otherwise fail to set up decrypt properly. If this happens, reboot TWRP. It seems to be some kind of timing issue and I haven’t had time to track it down yet.
This means that your data could potentially be wiped when trying to restore a backup. Regularly taking backups is recommended.
The Multi-User feature (including Guest Mode) will not work right now due to the way FBE encrypts each user’s folder seperately.
Finally, if you are using Chainfire’s SuperSU on your Pixel, it will be removed if you decide to install TWRP. Chainfire’s systemless root method modifies the same binary that TWRP needs to modify in order to get data decryption working. Therefore, when you flash TWRP you are overwriting the changes made to the init binary by Chainfire’s systemless root method.
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