The Samsung Gear S was only announced earlier this week and it’s already compiling a nice library of apps. Samsung announced on Friday that a Nike+ Running app will be preloaded on the Samsung Gear S when it goes on sale this October.
The Gear S comes with a curved 2-inch screen that will be used by the Nike+ app for giving feedback while running or displaying NikeFuel stats. An audio player will also be built in, so you can set your run to music with Bluetooth headphones — perhaps Samsung’s Gear Circle wireless headphones, which were announced at the same time as the Gear S.
The main claim to fame for the Tizen-based Gear S is that it comes with a 3G connection, so it doesn’t need to be paired to a smartphone at all times, unlike Android Wear. The fact that the Gear S will come with a robust running app pre-installed is bad news for the Timex Ironman GPS One, an expensive running-focused smartwatch based on Qualcomm technology that also comes with a cellular connection but lacks Samsung’s ecosystem clout.
Because it’s a pain to carry around a big phone when you go out for a quick run, run tracking could end up being one of the best ways to use a smartwatch with 3G connectivity. It’s an example of a user experience that’s well suited for the wrist, not a phone.
Nike laid off most of the wearable hardware team responsible for the Fuelband earlier this year, saying that it instead planned to focus on Nike+ software for multiple platforms. It’s kept that promise, releasing a Nike+ app for Android earlier this summer, although there is no Android Wear support yet. Still, I would expect to see Nike+ integration featured when Apple announces its wearable wristband as early as September 9.
Samsung’s Tizen-based smartwatches were among the first to market, but they face an uphill battle competing with Google and eventually Apple for people’s hearts and wrists. If Samsung wanted to keep its Tizen smartwatches competitive, this is exactly the way to do it: Quality apps that Android Wear doesn’t have yet.