The fix for the “Device Not Found” error? Disconnect your Nexus 7. Install the Google USB device drivers (unzip, then right-click on android_winusb.inf and select Install). Wait for the install to complete, and connect your Nexus 7. That should do that trick!
Then you can install this minimal ADB/Fastboot tool and one of the software images directly from Google. Remember to put it into bootloader mode by turning it off, then pressing and holding volume-up while pressing the power button. Then you connect the cable and run the re-flashing commands located on the Google page above. This is how I got my 2012-era Nexus 7 back to Android 4.4.4 after how terrible it performs on 5.0.2.
The back story:
When I first installed Android Jellybean 5.0 on my original Nexus 7, I was excited and impressed that Google was supporting this 2012-era hardware with the latest and greatest version of Android. That’s what buying a Nexus device is all about, right? After a few weeks though, my excitement turned to frustration as it became clear the device was incredibly sluggish. It plays a very specific role in our household: it sits in a dock 24/7 and is used for music streaming to a Logitech Bluetooth receiver that’s hooked up to a whole-home amp. Playing music isn’t a hard task. You’d think for this one thing the Nexus 7 would work, right?
Not a chance. With a fresh from-scratch flash of Android 5.02, using Google Play Music was still painful. It would lock up while playing a song and become non-responsive. It was a disaster. What possessed Google to approve the release of this software for the 2012 Nexus 7? It clearly can’t handle it properly. I’ve read all sorts of theories why – from poor NAND flash and storage controllers to limitations of the GPU – but the bottom line from my perspective is that Google made a grave error in inflicting this software on owners of the 2012-era Nexus 7. They should have released the software to let enthusiasts fiddle with it, and the hardcore users can decide if they wanted it, but spared the rest of us.
The good news is that because Google offers up older software images, and allows easy down-grades, I’ve put Android 4.4.4 on there and it’s back to working great. HTC and other OEMs should emulate what Google is doing here.
Now I’m stuck with a device that’s constantly prompting me to upgrade – one touch will trigger the “softwarepocalypse” – and there’s no easy way to stop the notifications other than rotting the device and installing a configuration tool.