Obviously, Samsung’s biggest announcement this week was the long awaited Galaxy S5, but it certainly wasn’t its only one. A few days earlier, the Android smartphone giant announced the successor to the six month old (and much too expensive) Galaxy Gear smartwatch in the form of the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.
No, those new names aren’t supposed to have “Galaxy” in front of them, but we will get to that in a minute. The Gear 2 is Samsung’s new flagship smartwatch, made with an all metal casing and leather strap to compliment its 1.6-inch Super AMOLED display and house a camera. The Neo is similar in design, but has a colorful plastic casing and lacks the camera. The internals are also quite similar, as both include a 300mAh battery supposedly good for up to three days of use, 4GB of internal storage, a dual-core 1GHz processor, Bluetooth 4.0, IP67 water resistance, a heart rate monitor, and an IR blaster to control TVs.
What is particularly interesting about the new Gears, however, is the software. Unlike the previous version, these smartwatches do not run Android, and are instead based on Tizen. Yes, the Tizen that Samung created with budget smartphones possibly in mind, and which can run Android apps. Of course, we haven’t heard much about Tizen lately, and the little talk of Samsung potentially cultivating a future Android replacement had almost completely died out. Now, it seems to be back.
This particular switch alone, though, isn’t too significant. Tizen is probably more efficient and lighter than Android at this point, and for the simpler functions that the smartwatch performs it makes some sense. Samsung says that the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will both still work with “dozens” of Samsung devices, and the software includes the features of the original Galaxy Gear along with a few more. It won’t work on all Android 4.0+ devices, but if Tizen can do what is needed by Samsung more efficiently than Android, it certainly seems to be a reasonable choice.
Realistically, Samsung may just be repurposing software that it already had to meet specific needs, and Tizen may be destined to be the platform only for accessories. In fact, Samsung is even updating the original Galaxy Gear to this new Tizen “smartwatch edition,” which makes it appear as if Tizen might be the new OS of choice for “smart” accessories.
Still, there’s always that slight chance that Samsung will continue to develop Tizen and offer it on more and more products. Could it replace Android right now? Of course not. But it isn’t too far fetched to think that some day in the future Samsung and Google might have a falling out of sorts, with Samsung wanting to customize Android even further and Google wanting to offer its product in a pure form. If Samsung sees that potential, in the back of its mind it just might be preparing for the possibility.[The Verge | Engadget]