Android this week: Samsung Android Wear; better Galaxy S5; custom ROMs on the go

Is it time for Google’s(s goog) annual developer event already? It seems that it wasn’t too long ago I trekked across the country to Google I/O but I’ll be doing it again this week. Although the conference is mainly about software, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see some hardware for the wrist this time around: Google is expected to show off Android Wear, it’s platform for smartwatches.


We already figured LG’s G Watch will make a debut and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Motorola Moto 360 with its round face as well. Good things come in threes, they say and CNET says a third watch will also appear: From Samsung. Odds are pretty good that CNET is right. Just last week, the FCC released testing documents showing a new Samsung smartwatch. While there was no mention of the software on the tested device, it is noticeably smaller that the company’s current Gear devices, which run Tizen. When I saw that, I noted:

“It’s possible that this new device also runs Tizen, but the timing of the test lines up nicely with the Android Wear debut this month; my gut says this will be the third Android Wear device Google will show off at Google I/O as a result.”

The FCC report is just too close to Android Wear to think otherwise, although it’s always possible that Samsung is already launching yet another Tizen watch. We’ll find out later this week as the Google I/O keynote is on Wednesday morning. I’ll be reporting live from the event, so circle back for the details to see if CNET and I are right.

Samsung also launched a new Galaxy S5 handset this week. That’s OK if you missed the news; it only applies — for now — to consumers in Samsung’s home country of South Korea. It’s not called the Galaxy S5 Prime but it matches up with rumors of that device, complete with a 2560 x 1440 display and faster Snapdragon 805 processor. The handset also supports South Korea’s LTE-A with download speeds racing along at up to 225 Mbps.

Galaxy S5 LTE-A

It may seem odd that Samsung is launching this phone just a few months after the global release of the Galaxy S5 but it almost makes sense to me. The latest flagship phone cycle didn’t quite line up with Qualcomm’s(s qcom) chip cycle. Samsung, HTC and LG were all ready to refresh their flagships but the Snapdragon 805 wasn’t available in mass quantities. So all three chose the Snapdragon 801 as a modest upgrade of silicon earlier this year. Now that the 805 is in mass production, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other flagships get a new, slightly faster version in the coming months.

Meanwhile, I’ve turned to older devices. Last weekend, I dug the Galaxy Tab 7.7 Wi-Fi tablet out of my gadget closet. The slim slate was the first to use a Super AMOLED display in early 2012 but was stuck running an older version of Android as Samsung stopped offering upgrades. I’m not willing to let that stop me from using the tablet because the 1280 x 800 display is simply too easy on the eye. So I spent some time upgrading it to a custom version of Android 4.4.3 and a $5 app was a huge help to make it easy.

Galaxy Tab 7.7 KitKat

It’s called Mobile Odin and it makes it easy to flash, or modify, the contents of most any Samsung phone or tablet. Instead of using an arcane process on a PC or Mac using the Android SDK, Mobile Odin can flash the recovery, modem or system files right on your device. That makes it handy to flash a custom ROM on the go, right on your mobile device, instead of doing so while chained to a computer.