How to Sideload Android Apps On Your Hammerhead Karoo 1 & Karoo 2


With out hesitation or query my favourite characteristic of the Hammerhead Karoo sequence (such because the newer Karoo 2) is the flexibility to report the display screen – permitting me to indicate you precisely what I’m seeing. It allows me to get a crystal clear recording of issues in real-time, even letting me merge it with GoPro footage to make explainer ride-along videos like this. It’s superior, and I’d principally commerce another characteristic on a Wahoo or Garmin GPS to get that performance there too.

Nonetheless, whereas display screen recording performance isn’t actually one thing most of you care about. Myself and some others reviewers – positive. However not most of you. However the best way I do it’s relevant to extra of you, because it’s finally simply loading Android apps on the Karoo 2. That’s as a result of the Karoo sequence bike laptop (1 and a couple of) are merely Android units. Certain, you don’t actually see it in any overtly apparent method for most individuals.

With the Karoo 2 shipments going out full velocity now, I’ve seen increasingly more questions on how I sideload apps. Up till this level, I’ve simply been pointing individuals at my Peloton sideloading apps directions, however I figured I’d write one thing extra particular right here.

Observe that sideloading apps means which you can load one thing just like the Zwift Companion app, or TrainerRoad, or another Android app you possibly can consider. Heck, TikTok I suppose. Whether or not or not there’s any precise non-gee worth in doing so will rely in your necessities. To every your personal, I received’t decide you….an excessive amount of. You do you!

Should you’re tech savvy, the general set up course of is fairly simple – about 10 minutes for the primary app you load, and about 2-3 minutes for every extra app. Should you’re aware of sideloading Android apps, then it’s trivial. Whereas should you come from the iOS world, you’ll in all probability scratch your head a couple of instances however carry on chuggin’. To my data, there may be nothing right here that ‘voids’ your Karoo guarantee per se (at worst you merely reset your display screen to defaults).

The Foundational Bits:


Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes

These first steps are required it doesn’t matter what app you’re putting in. And realistically this is able to be the identical whether or not it was Zwift Companion App, TrainerRoad, or Netflix. Observe that there are quite a few methods to slice the Android onion. For instance you can add a brand new loader as an alternative, after which swap forwards and backwards, however frankly I simply discover that an excessive amount of juggling. I simply need the darn app out there proper subsequent to different Karoo options.

Observe: I’m writing these directions utilizing a PC as a result of I’m largely a PC man. But when somebody writes these foundational directions for Mac, I’m completely satisfied to incorporate them.

1A) Karoo 1 Models: You want a micro-USB cable, specifically one that supports data. Most assist knowledge, however not all. Should you occur to have had a Garmin bike laptop prior, it’ll truly say ‘GARMIN’ on the cable, and that’s a technique to know 100% it helps knowledge. There isn’t any wonderful means of realizing in case your cable is an information one, or charge-only. If it’s cost solely, then the pc will solely cost it, however can’t entry knowledge.

1B) Karoo 2 Models: You’ll want a USB-C cable, which, is what got here together with your Karoo 2. That’s an important cable to make use of. If in case you have a pc with solely USB-C ports although, you’ll by now have observed the Karoo 2 cable solely as USB-C at one finish. Thus, you’ll both want a USB-C to USB-C cable, or a USB-C dongle. Probably although, should you’ve obtained a pc with solely USB-C ports, you’ve in all probability already purchased a USB-C dongle a very long time in the past.

2) Subsequent, activate developer mode on the Karoo:

A) Energy on the Karoo
B) Swipe to ‘Settings’ within the decrease bar, then all the best way right down to ‘About’, after which faucet the ‘Construct Quantity’ field repeatedly till it says you’re a Developer
C) Should you press again as soon as, it’s best to see ‘Developer Choices’ displaying now, faucet to open the ‘Developer Choices’

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D) Scroll right down to ‘USB debugging’ and allow that, that is principally the way you get apps in your Karoo.


3) Subsequent, we have to set up the Android Developer tools on your Windows computer. Once more, I come from the Home windows world largely, so I don’t know the steps for Mac. However I assume they’re related. Choose the choice that claims ‘Obtain SDK Platform-tools for Home windows’. To ‘set up’ them, you’re principally simply copying the contents to a folder. In my case, to maintain issues easy, I’ve created a folder known as ‘Android’ on my laptop:


(Observe: It might unzip right into a folder known as ‘Platform-Instruments’, that’s nice. I simply put the whole lot into the Android folder for simplicity right here. Additionally, as you’ll see in a second, I created a folder calls ‘Apps’ inside it, the place I stash all my apps.)

4) Now, plug your Karoo into your laptop utilizing that USB cable. By default it received’t truly present as a USB drive or such in your laptop. That’s OK, and isn’t wanted for loading apps. However I kinda prefer it for different functions (like getting my display screen recordings). So, in case you need it so present up, merely return to the Developer Choices, and scroll-down a ton till you discover ‘Choose USB Configuration’, and alter it to MTB (Media Switch Protocol):


You need to now see your Karoo up in your laptop. It’ll merely be named k2. Observe that I’ve observed that for no matter purpose, this setting doesn’t appear to save lots of every time I energy off the Karoo 2 (whereas it does save on a few of my different Android units). I’m positive some Android particular person might inform me why that is. Simply an FYI for subsequent time.


5) Now, open up a Command Immediate, and get to the identical listing as the place you put in all these recordsdata. In my case, that’s the Android folder on my C: drive.

Then as soon as there sort: adb.exe units


6) You’ll get a immediate in your Karoo to authorize that request out of your laptop, press to just accept (and doubtless examine that field to make your life simpler sooner or later).


7) Now, sort the command once more: adb.exe units

You’ll see this time it reveals a tool returned (KAROO20ALA091100544), which merely means it efficiently related to my Karoo.


Okay, with these steps finished we’re prepared to put in *ANY* app you need. In different phrases, you achieved the exhausting half. Now it’s simple from right here on out!

Instance App Set up:

Estimated time: 5-10 minutes

I’m going to make use of the Zwift Companion App right here, simply because it seems fairly. Virtually talking doing TrainerRoad might be extra helpful (however, I documented how to do this already in my Peloton side-loading submit). I’ll warn you that whereas the Zwift Companion app works simply nice, I personally discover it a bit small on the Karoo 2, particularly for a number of the navigational bits. However that’s in addition to the purpose, the method is *EXACTLY* the identical irrespective of which app you employ.

The best way ‘side-loading’ works is that Android apps are available an APK file, which is principally a self-contained file that features your entire apps. Principally (there are some exceptions, reminiscent of the complete Zwift set up – however I additionally cowl that in my Peloton bike submit too, within the Zwift part). Irrespective of the app, you have to get the self-contained APK file. That’s as a result of the Karoo doesn’t merely have the Google Play retailer put in, we’ll want to make use of third celebration websites to obtain these identical APK recordsdata. Typically corporations may even make them out there simply too.

Within the case of the Zwift Companion App, the APK file is available from PureAPK. It reveals the latest/present Android model from December twenty ninth, 2020 (the latest model as of this writing).

(Observe: Anytime you obtain an app from a third celebration service, you threat a situation the place the third celebration app is compromised. That’s a reasonably darn low likelihood right here, however simply need to pay attention to that.)


Now, obtain that APK file into that Android folder. I created an ‘Apps’ folder to make my life extra organized, however you don’t must.

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Okay, again to your command immediate and kind the beneath and press enter:

adb.exe set up “AppsZwift”

(Professional Tip: Simply sort: Adb set up appsZwift after which hit tab, it’ll do the remainder for you.)


It’ll come again with ‘Success’ a couple of seconds later.

Now, again in your Karoo merely swipe alongside the underside and also you’ll discover you’ll now have an additional ‘dot’, displaying the Zwift Companion App put in. To state the apparent, faucet it to open the app:


And right here’s it opened up, prepared to make use of:


When you’ve signed in you’re prepared to make use of it similar to regular:


Observe that for the Zwift Companion app particularly, the Dashboard/Zwifters/Messages pages are inclined to work finest, whereas the map web page is a little more funky due to the small display screen measurement It really works, however your metrics sorta overlay atop 2/3rds the map.

DSC_2656 DSC_2654

If you wish to use Bluetooth sensors from the Zwift Companion app, then you definitely’ll get a pop-up requiring you grant the situation permissions. This is because of a bizarre quirk in how Android grants permission to the Bluetooth stack:


(Observe: Whereas the Karoo does assist pairing to ANT+ sensors, the underling Zwift Companion app doesn’t assist ANT+ sensor bridging, sadly.)

With that, you’re able to roll!

Additionally, for some apps you could must manually grant permission to make use of sensors (like Bluetooth or ANT+), storage, or location (through GPS). Most apps will pop-up and ask you to approve, however some apps like the complete Zwift set up will fail should you don’t manually approve them (in my expertise). You may all the time manually approve apps by going to Settings > Apps > [Then your app] > Permissions, and you’ll give it whichever permissions it wants:


In my expertise, the 2 most typical ones are:

A) Location: Used for GPS and Bluetooth sensors
B) Storage: Used for writing to the file system

However I’ve additionally seen the quirky digicam permission come up right here and there, when an app could use that for taking screenshots. Go forth and luxuriate in!

Oh, and if you have to get out out of the app, merely hit the decrease left button (again), which will get you again to the Karoo display screen. Keep in mind similar to in your cellphone, this app remains to be working within the background although. However, this does assist you to swap forwards and backwards between apps.



Now earlier than we wrap-up I’d be remiss if I didn’t word that since Hammerhead’s first Karoo announcement, a core tenant of why they’ve developed on Android was to attempt to get third celebration apps to developer for the Karoo extra natively. Through the use of Android as the bottom, it could require minimal effort in comparison with growing an app for Join IQ on Garmin (for instance). If an app had been to change into natively suitable, you wouldn’t must mess with any of this. It’d simply probably present up in your Karoo unit with out all of the fuss – similar to apps/options do on different platforms.  Hammerhead has stated they anticipate to announce their first third celebration app right here quickly, so hopefully that’ll usher extra apps to think about including compatibility. And whereas the Karoo 2 isn’t basically that completely different than the Karoo 1 (the run the identical software program), the fact is that Hammerhead didn’t have any stock to promote and ship for principally a yr – so their market share would have been a problem proposition to persuade third celebration corporations/apps.

However I believe that’s going to vary over the course of 2021, and the quantity of native options they’ve now in comparison with even one yr in the past, not to mention 2-3 years in the past – is vastly completely different. After all, that’s all in addition to the purpose right here on this geeky submit.

With that – I go away you to return and set up different Android apps that don’t have any goal being on a motorbike laptop, as a result of if it’s something a bunch of geeks do finest, it’s creating options for issues that didn’t exist. Now, again to my display screen recorder. 😉

Thanks for studying!

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