The ability to modify Android devices is a key feature that tinkerers can appreciate. Take the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, for example: Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica found it was relatively easy to sideload Android apps on the small wearable device. Aside from installing a few apps and watching a video, he can use the tiny touchscreen to play Candy Crush.
The process for app installation requires the Android SDK on a computer and enabling “USB Debug” mode on the Galaxy Gear. After that, a simple command will push and install the .apk app file of your choice. While the usefulness is limited, this speaks to how flexible Android can be.
Speaking of flexible, the Google Hangouts app looks to be gaining a new feature in the near future. A leaked image shows SMS integration into Hangouts. The app has already taken the place of Google Talk and Messages, so it appears Google is pushing to consolidate various communication types under the Hangouts name. If this change is in the works, I’d expect it to be a part of the Android 4.4 KitKat launch. This would leave Google Voice standing alone, but perhaps that would follow in the future.
Also new this week is a revamped Twitter app for Android tablets. Actually, make that for an Android tablet. The updated app is better optimized for large screen devices; something that would benefit owners of any Android slate. However, Twitter worked out a deal with Samsung to make the app initially exclusive to the new Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet.
I can understand why Samsung would want some type of exclusive on its most recently launched tablet. New features in Twitter support the unique functions on the new Note. For example, you can annotate or draw on images before tweeting them. And Twitter is now one of the few apps that’s approved for the multi-window view on Samsung devices: You can run Twitter and another app at the same time on the screen.
Twitter says the new app will be available for other Android tablets by year-end, meaning the wait on your particular tablet won’t be long. Even so, I’m not a fan of exclusives such as this. They never benefit the customer; the sole intent is to push consumers towards a single product or service, i.e.: Exclusives are simply marketing ploys. It’s a shame that an app used daily by so many is part of such a ploy.