I would like to install AOSP version of Android OS on the Nexus 7. However, I am wondering what would I miss by doing so.

I know that by compiling the AOSP android-4.2.2_r1, I should get Android 4.2.2 that is pretty close to what is coming as the stock firmware images.

I know that I can get drivers for all the hardware Google. There even seem to be DRM drivers!

I know that I can transfer all the proprietary Google application packages from the stock firmware over to the AOSP firmware.

But, if I have done all this, am I still somehow short compared to the stock firmware that Google provides on the Nexus 7? I guess I do not get OTA updates to the firmware, but that is not a problem. I guess I should get normal updates to the proprietary Google application packages from Google Play. Are there some applications on Google Play that will not install on my phone if I am using AOSP? Is there something else that I have not thought of?

  • 1
    If you get the binary drivers from Google and install Google's apps then you'll basically be back where you started. The stock image for an N7 is AOSP + Google apps; don't think you'd be missing anything. Mar 11, 2013 at 13:57
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    Apart from the missing G-Apps on the initial flash of AOSP, I also think that there is no difference in between. AOSP is only there to provide a base package for custom ROM devs to build upon.
    – forums
    Mar 11, 2013 at 16:26
  • Is there a link talking about portable hotspot on AOSP and stock images? May 7, 2013 at 23:08
  • The "DRM drivers" you've seen are probably for the direct rendering manager, and are part of the graphics drivers. They're nothing to do with digital restrictions.
    – Dan Hulme
    Mar 31, 2014 at 9:59
  • You are quite correct, the might be direct rendering manager drivers. However, this is not the case, they are in fact digital rights management drivers.
    – Nakedible
    Apr 2, 2014 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


So there are still some differences between the factory images and AOSP builds. Here are some of the differences I know:

  • "Gesture Typing" feature is missing in AOSP builds as noted by JBQ here.
  • "Photosphere" feature is missing in AOSP, as noted here.
  • The various Google Apps don't come included with AOSP (Play Store, Gmail, Maps, Google Now, etc).

I'm sure you can hunt down more differences by going through threads in the 'android-building' mailing list. A last note on the differences by one of the gatekeepers of AOSP.


Actually, I think you can easily compile a more thorough list of the differences between factory and AOSP images.

The following commands may be of use to you:

adb shell pm list packages
adb shell pm list libraries
adb shell pm list features
adb shell pm
adb shell am

There's more information regarding these commands at http://developer.android.com/tools/help/adb.html#pm

The following answers are added for posterity's sake, since they are somewhat related:

I didn't find much use out of them, but someone else may.

I'll add some comparisons between factory, AOSP, and CyanogenMod later. I'll be testing it on the Nexus 7 (grouper), it may differ slightly for other devices.

  • Thanks, this is the sort of info I was looking for, instead of a generic "it should be the same".
    – Nakedible
    May 4, 2013 at 11:23
  • I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I can recall off the top of my head. You should make a post o n the android-building mailing list to get a more thorough answer, I think. And then you could enhance this answer with the replies you get. May 5, 2013 at 14:02

The Nexus 7, like most of the previous Nexus devices Google has released or been involved with manufacturing, runs the same AOSP source code that you propose to compile and install yourself, with only the addition of Google proprietary apps and hardware device driver binaries (though these are often available separately or in the source tree).

There are basically two reasons to do this:

  1. You are a developer working on modifying the Android platform itself.

  2. A fix for a bug that seriously impacts you is available in a slightly newer version of the source and it's so serious that you can't wait for the fix to be released normally.

If neither of these applies to you, then you probably shouldn't bother.

  • Thank you for your answer. However, it seems there are some differences, somewhere. For example, the stock Nexus 7 ROMs do not allow enabling the portable hotspot, where as AOSP images should (I think). Is there any way to know what other differences might there be?
    – Nakedible
    Mar 11, 2013 at 21:34
  • Your carrier made a slight customization to it, then. Those can usually be bypassed after rooting the device, without doing anything so invasive as replacing the entire firmware. Mar 11, 2013 at 21:36
  • I didn't buy it from a carrier, things do not work in Finland like that. I buy hardware, from the store, like a PC - no operator connection, 100% stock images from Google. Also, I do know it can be bypassed easier, that was not the point of my enquiry.
    – Nakedible
    Mar 11, 2013 at 21:39

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