Galaxy Gear gets a custom ROM as Samsung talks up its smartwatch sales

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Editor's note: This article originally published 11-19-13 but was updated 11-20-13 with sales data clarification from Samsung.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear may or may not be the world's most popular smartwatch, but it's definitely the most-hacked wrist wear. As Samsung touts its recent sales figures for the Galaxy Gear, hackers over at the XDA-Developers forum are hard at work releasing a custom ROM for the device.

Called Null, the Gear ROM includes the ability to add custom launchers and comes with the popular Nova Launcher installed. Null also extends the device's video recording limit to 60 seconds and adds Bluetooth tethering, which apparently allows you to browse the Web on the watch via your smartphone.

Screenshots from the Null ROM being crafted for the Galaxy Gear. (Click to enlarge.)

Web surfing may not be ideal on the Gear's 1.63-inch Super AMOLED, but that's hardly the point. This is all about extending the Gear's capabilities beyond any limitations Samsung imposes on the device.

Gear owners out their hoping to root their device should be warned that installing custom ROMs can be a dangerous game for anyone who doesn't know what they are doing. There's always the risk that you'll brick your device or end up with buggy software that doesn't work very well.

Samsung talks up smartwatch sales

While having Null may be a handy option for adventurous Gear owners, a disagreement is brewing about just how many Galaxy Gear smartwatches are actually in the wild.

By late October we were hearing that about 30 percent of Galaxy Gear watches were being returned to Best Buy locations alone. That's a pretty high rate of return, but perhaps not unexpected with such an experimental product that worked only with the Galaxy Note 3 for its first month.

Even with those downsides, Samsung said on Tuesday that it had sold 800,000 smartwatches so far, exceeding the company's own expectations, according to Reuters.

That sounds like a pretty good sales record for Samsung, but whispers suggest Samsung may be pulling the oldest trick in the technology maker's handbook. By "sales," Samsung may mean sales to retailers and not sell through to consumers, as alleged by the Korean paperYonhap and anonymous (yet widely respected) analyst "Sammy the Walrus" on Twitter.

In other words, Samsung might have shipped 800,000 units to retailer warehouses, but all those Gears may not necessarily have wound up in customer hands. We've dropped a line to Samsung to see if it can clear up the confusion.

Update 11-20-13: Samsung says "We can confirm that Samsung has sold 800,000 Galaxy Gears since launch. This reflects the number of sales to channel partners." So the 800,000 figure is indeed shipped units, not the number of Gears sold to customers.

Of course, the Gear is also being heavily marketed and even given away for free in the U.K. as a promotional item to sell Galaxy smartphones, so there may be a large number of Galaxy Gear smartwatches in use without registering an independent sale. It's also not clear if Samsung's 800,000 figure accounts for the reportedly high returns.

Smartwatches are a hot topic in gadget circles these days. Samsung and Sony are currently selling smartwatches, and Qualcomm will release its limited edition Toq smartwatch on December 2. There are also rumors about upcoming smartwatches from the likes of Apple, GoogleHTC, and Microsoft.

[ via The Verge ]

This story, "Galaxy Gear gets a custom ROM as Samsung talks up its smartwatch sales" was originally published by TechHive.

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