When Samsung announced their first smartwatch alongside the Galaxy Note 3, no one was surprised to see it running Android. After all Samsung has been one of the biggest supporters of Google’s open-source operating system, and easily the most successful partner as well. The Galaxy Gear launched with and still runs Android 4.2.2, which isn’t exactly the most efficient version of Android out there (that’s Android 4.4 KitKat if you’re keeping tabs), so what should Samsung do next? Update the Galaxy Gear to Tizen of course! Wait, what? Yes that’s right, in a stunning move Samsung is actually going to switch out the entire operating system of the original Galaxy Gear for their new bread-and-butter, Tizen.
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If you’re unfamiliar with Tizen it’s a newcomer to the mobile world, being the lovechild of many conglomerates and organizations like Intel, Samsung, Nokia and dozens of others, and it’s been in development for years in one form or another. Tizen is still an open-source Linux-based mobile operating system much like Android is, but instead of running apps that are designed exclusively for the OS it runs HTML5 based apps, which are essentially similar to what runs out of Chrome on a desktop for instance. This means that there could be hundreds or even thousands of apps available with very little tweaking on the developer’s part, and it also means less processing overhead and battery drain. While we obviously love Android here at Android Headlines, it’s interesting to see what Samsung is going to do with Tizen, especially when it comes to wearables.
Where did this all start? First of all Samsung just announced the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit at Mobile World Congress this week, and surprised everyone by announcing that their newest wearables run Tizen instead of Android as their first smartwatch did. Considering the importance of development going forward, and being rather reasonable with their upgrade plans, it seems that Samsung has extended an olive branch to early adopters of the Galaxy Gear by essentially bringing all new app development forward to that device. While we’re not going to be seeing the heart rate sensor or TV remote functionality in the original Galaxy Gear (since those features are hardware dependent), this means that most if not all of the new apps that were announced alongside the Gear 2 will be making their way to the Galaxy Gear with the update. For people like me who own the Galaxy Gear and have already rooted the device and installed a number of other apps on it that weren’t originally designed for the Galaxy Gear, I’ve got mixed emotions. I want to see my purchase supported in the future, but at the same time Tizen is brand new and there’s no telling what kind of support Tizen will keep down the road either. We don’t have a date for when this update is going to be released, but I’d expect it after the Gear 2 makes its way to market in the coming months.