Samsung set to roll curved screen --  for some reason

Plus, botnets and thieves, Amazon's got new tablets but don't call them Android, a cult classic app gets a free version and there's suddenly a lot of uninvited guests in your Google Hangout.

Keep your Siris, your hyperloops, your asteroid miners – now the future is truly here. Samsung announced that it will release a smartphone with a curved screen next month.

Marketing honcho D. J. Lee made the announcement at the South Korean rollout event for the Galaxy Note 3 on Wednesday, though he didn’t provide specs or pricing.

[MORE ANDROID: Enterprises more accepting of Android, while Windows is losing ground]

Rumors about curved or flexible smartphone screens from Samsung have been making the rounds for some time now, spurred on by the fact that the technology really does exist:

Android

Credit: wikimedia

It’s even in production use on larger displays, like some high-end HDTVs, with the idea being that a curvy screen provides a better field of view.

But while it’s certainly a neat technology, most agree that it’s just a gimmick, with no real advantages over flat screens at any scale smaller than what you’d see in a movie theater.

Given that Yonhap News reports that the panel we’ll see next month is curved but not flexible, it’s difficult to see what the big idea is, besides “look, this is curvy!” A flexible screen would at least have the advantage of being much more drop-resistant than a rigid panel.

At any rate – it looks like Samsung’s headed for another underwhelming product launch, following hard on the heels of the Galaxy Gear. (Apologies to the Galaxy Note 3, which looks very nice.) Would it have been so hard to delay the smartwatch until the actual flexible screens were available? Seems like a better fit.

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Another day, another piece of squirmy security news about Android – a Russian security company says that the largest Android botnet to date has been discovered, mostly on devices in the former Soviet Union. Users were generally infected with premium-text-sending malware when they downloaded bogus APKs from illegal or compromised websites. As ever, sticking to the Play Store unless you really know what you’re doing ought to keep you safe.

Most of the time, anyway. It turns out that an Android app that let users chat via Apple’s iMessage service forwarded some information to mysterious servers in China, leading experts to conclude that the whole thing was a trick to collect Apple ID information and hijack accounts.

Google has since pulled the iMessage app from the Play Store. Interestingly, the app apparently worked fairly well with iMessage, despite its ulterior purpose.

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Part of Amazon’s big announcement of a new pair of Kindle Fire tablets – dubbed Kindle Fire HDX – was the announcement of Fire OS 3.0. It’s a heavily modified version of Android (based on version 4.2.2) that features a Mayday Button, which you press to be connected via video chat to a tech support rep near-instantaneously. Fortunately, while you can see them, they can’t see you, sparing Amazon employees from having to constantly see pictures of cats pawing at the screen, small children’s fingers, and surprised-looking people on the toilet.

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If you frequent Reddit’s Android subforum, you’ll likely have heard of Tasker – but if you haven’t, it’s an advanced automation app that lets you program your phone to do things like switch to Wi-Fi when it detects you’re at home, turn down screen brightness at night, or read out text messages when you’re in the car.

There’s now a simplified free version – not from the same developer – called Mini Tasker available in the Play Store, which sacrifices some functionality while remaining easier to use. Could be an interesting gateway to the sometimes-unintuitive original.

(H/T: AddictiveTips)

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As if to celebrate the release of a new version of Hangouts for Android in a bizarre and unhelpful way, Google’s messaging services apparently got drunk and began sending messages to incorrect recipients early Thursday morning. The company is still working on a fix as of Thursday afternoon, and expects to have the problem resolved “in the near future.”

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold. He’s sorry about the absence of a roundup last week, but he was down in New Orleans covering LinuxCon North America and eating all their fried chicken.

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