Samsung has announced an update for the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but it’s not the usual bug fixes and a few new features, it’s an entire change of operating system. The new software replaces Android with Tizen, which Samsung uses on its more recent smartwatches, the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo.
Interestingly, Samsung isn’t forcing this change on anyone, the update to Tizen is optional, so if you like the Android OS, you can keep it. However, it makes a strong case for updating in its press release. For a start, Samsung says you’ll gain access to more than 140 apps built especially for the Tizen watch, which is twice what’s available for the Gear at the moment.
The Galaxy Gear will also receive the Gear 2’s music player, which can play music stored on the watch through Bluetooth headphones without the need to interact with your phone at all. The Gear’s fitness tracking features will reportedly get better under Tizen’s guidance, with real-time walking, running, and cycling tracking, plus integration with Samsung’s S Health fitness app.
If you decide to upgrade, you’ll have to get used to a new interface, but it comes with more customization options, including wallpapers and a choice of icons. Finally — and perhaps reason alone to upgrade — the battery life should improve once Tizen is installed, although Samsung doesn’t say by how much. Be warned, the Tizen update is a one way street, and there’s no going back to Android once it has been applied.
Galaxy Gear owners will find the Tizen update inside Samsung’s Kies 3.0 software.