There once was a time in the Android rooting and modding scene where we couldn't rely on using a custom recovery, such as TWRP, to flash all our files. Manual file flashing was very popular in the early days, but has since become a little less relevant because the custom recovery scene had evolved so much over the years. However, it appears to be making a strong return in a good way.
Well-known custom kernel developer Francisco Franco recently brought the manual file flashing feature back with his latest kernel app update. Why is this so big, you might be thinking? Well, the apps we relied upon in the past for on-device manual file flashing, such a Flashify and Rashr, have been abandoned for more than a year.
Most root-friendly Android phones use the A/B partition layout now, which the older file flashing apps do not support, making them useless for today's devices. I'll share with you how to get the new manual file flashing feature, and give some real-world scenarios why you might want a feature like this in this first place. It might occasionally end up being a lifesaver for you in some cases, too.
To get access to this new A/B partition friendly manual file flasher, you must first download and install the FK Kernel Manager app on the device you plan on using it with. You don't need to be using Franco's custom kernel to use the file flasher, but it couldn't hurt if you've been looking for a good kernel to flash for your device.
- Play Store Link: FK Kernel Manager ($3.99)
With this feature, you can manually install custom kernels, Magisk modules, fonts, and just about any other ZIP file that is compatible with TWRP — with one small exception. As of right now, you are unable to flash custom ROMs using this method, so you'd still TWRP to do that. Everything else, though? You should generally have no issues with.
Now that the app has been installed, go ahead and open it. The main screen is pretty bare, so finding the "Manual flasher" option is quite easy, as it's the first option at the top. Tapping this will bring up your file manager app so you can then browse for flashable ZIP files and install them directly, no custom recovery needed.
Once you locate a ZIP you want to install to your system, tapping the file will bring up the confirmation prompt. You can choose "Just Flash" if you plan on flashing multiple files and then manually rebooting your device later, or "Flash & Reboot" if you're flashing a single file. There's not much to it really, but you can now install everything without the hassle of using recovery mode all the time.
In this era of fully-featured custom recoveries, is there a real reason to flash files manually as we did once upon a time? You can never have too many choices, and whether you plan on using this feature a lot or very little, there are quite a few reasons you might want to consider keeping it in your arsenal of root-only apps.
Complete Access All the Time
One of the biggest things about using a custom recovery, such as TWRP, is that whenever a new device comes out, we always have to wait for the development scene to update the custom recovery to work with these new devices. Sometimes it can take a while to happen on lesser-known devices, and sometimes official support may not even make it at all in some cases. That's when we begin to see unofficial support popping up, but even that's not a guarantee for every single device out there.
In comes the manual file flasher, which works universally for pretty much all devices across the board. You can use the file flasher to get all of your rooting and modding needs without ever having to touch a custom recovery to begin with. As such, you can use the feature as a stop-gap until TWRP support comes to your device if you still prefer using a custom recovery. You will always have multiple choices when it comes to getting things done on Android, so feel free to use what works best for your situation.
You Forget to Flash TWRP After an Update
If you still plan on using TWRP as your primary way of flashing files, the manual file flasher could supplement your needs in another way. Since most new devices use the A/B partition setup, whenever you flash a new update to your device, it will automatically overwrite your custom recovery with the stock version. If you had a custom kernel or Magisk previously installed on your system before the update, those both would also be reverted to stock as well.
Let's say you installed a custom kernel and Magisk after a system update while using TWRP but forget to flash the permanent TWRP installer. You reboot your system and realize too late that you're unable to get back to TWRP again because the stock recovery took over. You now have to go through the process of temporarily booting into TWRP using a computer to get back up and running like before. What if you don't want to deal with the computer stuff or don't have access to one at that time? You could just as quickly use the manual file flasher to install the permanent version of TWRP right there, no computer necessary.
You Don't Have to Boot into Recovery Constantly
Let's face it — when flashing mods and other ZIP files, sometimes you might want to flash just one single file real quick. It could be a hassle to stop what you're doing and boot into recovery mode every time just for one quick file flash, which may result in missing an important notification or call at any given time. Using the manual file flasher on the device itself ensures you will not have to drop everything to flash a file, making it a very convenient choice for many. All you would ever need to do is a quick reboot like usual, which means pretty much zero downtime for all your flashing needs.