Google Nexus Q hacked to run Android apps (Netflix!) and games

The Google Nexus Q has been rooted. Anyone can follow the instructions to install an Android launcher in order to run apps and games on their television set. The device's $300 price tag no longer looks so steep.

The hacker community has struck again. This time, it's Google's Nexus Q owners that benefit. With a little tinkering, you can run apps and games on your new Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) device, as well as even browse the Internet.

Over on XDA Developers, forum user "kornyone" revealed that he was able to unlock the Nexus Q, install an Android app library launcher tool, and even control the device with a connected keyboard and mouse. Most importantly, he posted detailed instructions and a video (see above) on how he achieved the feat.

Here are the necessary steps:

  • Connect PC to Q via USB.
  • Run 'adb reboot bootloader'.
  • Run 'fastboot oem unlock'. Then (within 5 seconds run this to confirm): 'fastboot oem unlock_accept'.
  • Download this file -- nexusq-boot.img. It is a Nexus Q boot.img with ro.secure=0, allowing us to remount /system and root device.
  • Setup USB Debugging in Nexus Q via client app all over again (may require clearing data from client device Nexus Q app).
  • Run 'adb reboot bootloader'.
  • Run 'fastboot boot nexusq-boot.img'. Your Nexus Q will now boot up unlocked.
  • Run 'adb remount'
  • Push 'su' and 'Superuser.apk' from a good source. I use nightly CM9 su/Superuser from my HTC Doubleshot. Put su in /system/xbin/, put Superuser in /system/app. chmod the su binary 06755. (There's many pages documenting how this is done).

Out-of-box, the Nexus Q can only be used to stream music, movies, and YouTube videos stored or accessed from your Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) phone or tablet. This is a ridiculous limitation, although the search giant did say at its Google I/O developer conference that it's interested to see how developers use the device's USB port to hack it.

A day later, someone managed to launch games on the Nexus Q, but not play them. Now kornyone has managed to get almost everything working, specifically highlighting the following in his post: "Netflix and Youtube HQ, Vplayer playing 1080 mkvs of 17gb in size across CIFS, games working (Angry Birds, etc), Apollo music working, G+ is neat." Once the device is available to everyone (it's currently up for pre-order and set to ship this month), expect an easier hack to come down the pipeline.

While the instructions are long, the development still means any Nexus Q owner can access Android apps on their television sets. Suddenly the Nexus Q is no longer a dud.

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