The original Galaxy Gear smartwatches that went on sale last year have an official software update waiting for them. As expected, Samsung is changing the firmware on the watch from Google Android to the company’s own Tizen software. Samsung announced the software availability on its press site, saying the new software can be downloaded through its Kies application.
Changing the software to its own brings benefits to Samsung, of course: The company fully controls the user experience and app store with Tizen. The change in platform is good for users, too, the company says.
“By updating the Galaxy Gear to Tizen OS, users will have access to more apps, about 140 apps worldwide available for Tizen OS – nearly twice what is currently available on the Galaxy Gear. The updated Galaxy Gear will also receive the robust music enhancements found on the Gear 2. Owners will be able to store music on the Galaxy Gear and play back directly from the Gear through Bluetooth headphones, without the need to have a Galaxy phone on hand. “
This puts the original Galaxy Gear on par with its successor, the newer Gear 2 smartwatch. Of course, Samsung hasn’t abandoned Android-powered smartwatches entirely. It was a launch partner for the Google Android Wear devices, basically taking the older Gear hardware and repurposing it to run Android. I’m still not convinced that these devices will yet appeal to mainstream consumers but the basic idea is there for both Samsung and Google to build on, regardless of what software the devices run.