Samsung’s first smartwatch was widely panned by critics, but the company isn’t giving up on the device.
With its latest update, Samsung is replacing the Galaxy Gear’s Android operating system with Tizen, its home brewed open source OS, SamMobile reports.
The upgrade won’t change the Gear’s interface, but it should bring better performance and battery life to the device. It will also add a few features found on the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, which run Tizen by default. Those include a standalone music player and voice commands when using the Gear’s camera.
It’s as if Samsung is trying to completely erase many of the problems of the first Galaxy Gear at once. In my review, I found it to be a clunky watch that didn’t really do much. For the few who bought the original Galaxy Gear, this update will at least let you do a few more things with the watch.
The update also shows how easily replaceable Android is for wearables, which could be a warning to Google and its Android Wear initiative. Most users likely won’t even notice that the Gear is running a completely different operating system after its upgrade. Google needs to make sure Android is essential to wearables, not something that manufacturers can swap out at their whim.
Samsung isn’t giving up entirely on Android. It’s one of Google’s first Android Wear partners, so we’ll likely see a device powered entirely by that platform from Samsung later this year. Unlike Samsung’s current smartwatches, Android Wear is designed to work with a wide variety of Android phones (and potentially, phones from other platforms).