Google provides more guidance for Pixel 6 users that flashed Android 13

In order to fix a security flaw, Google modified it so that the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, and 6a cannot reinstall Android 12 with Android 13. Google has provided instructions on how to prevent bricking your smartphone if you flashed Android 13 in order to remedy that vulnerability.

The previous bootloader on the Pixel 6 series has a security flaw, and Android 13 prevents users from reinstalling the vulnerable version linked to Android 12.

However, even after successfully updating your phone to Android 13 by flashing a factory image, which is distinct from sideloading an OTA image on the Pixel 6 series, an Android 12 build still exists on your device. Due to Androids A/B (seamless) system updates , which are designed to provide redundancy, this has happened:

A/B system upgrades employ two slots, or sets of partitions (normally slot A and slot B). The partitions in the unused slot are not accessed by the running system during regular operation; instead, the system operates from the currently occupied slot. By keeping the unused slot available as a backup, this method makes updates fault-tolerant: The system can rollback to the previous update slot if an issue happens during or right after it, maintaining a functional system.

As a result, an earlier bootloader with a non-incremented anti-rollback version is present in the inactive slot. If you flash your device and the install fails, that mismatch could lead to issues. Android will attempt to boot from the inactive slot by design, however that violates the vulnerability protection. Your phone won’t turn on due to Android 12 (and the older bootloader).

Google on Thursday afternoon provided instructions about how to prevent that specific problem from happening IF YOU FLASHED ANDROID 13. It entails flashing Android 12 to Android 13 in the idle slot. Although sideloading an OTA image to update the inactive slot is the simplest method, instructions for using factory images are also available.

Those (i.e. tinkerers) who plan to reflash their devices with either a factory or custom image should focus on this procedure (built from AOSP).

Google will update the Android Flash Tool , which flashes the active slot, as well as the fastboot in the coming days with a prompt to flash the inactive slot with the Android 13 bootloader.

THE ANDROID 13 OTA WAS USED BY YOU People that accepted the on-device OTA (which is Google’s recommended install option) or sideloaded an Android 13 OTA image without wiping their devices or data and don’t plan to flash their phones (again, different from sideloading) are not required to take any further action at this time.

The active slot is in bold, with OTAs installing in the inactive slot

The bulk of users with locked bootloaders, according to the business, have a very minimal possibility of experiencing the problem. The inactive slot will be updated by the subsequent OTA (likely the September security patch) or sideload.

This content was contributed to by Kyle Bradshaw and Dylan Roussel .
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