Are you the proud owner of an original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but bummed out that you’re missing out on some of the cool new features of the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, like their standalone music app and S Health sleep tracking? Samsung is listening and its now offering the ability to upgrade the original Galaxy Gear’s operating system from Android to Tizen —the OS powering its latest generation of smartwatches.
What is Tizen?
Tizen is a mobile operating system with multiple versions, including one optimized for wearable technology. Like Android, the OS is open source Linux-based software. While the original Galaxy Gear runs Android, Samsung made the decision to base its next generation smartwatches —the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo— on Tizen instead. Samsung is part of the team behind Tizen development and likely made the switch from Android becuase it has the influence to push features out quickly instead of having to wait for Google to implement them.
How Do Galaxy Gear Owners Install Tizen?
Upgrading an operating system from one version to the next is one thing, but completely replacing the OS with a new one is a much more drastic operation. So Samsung has the process locked down.
The Galaxy Gear must be connected to a PC running Samsung’s KIES software (a free download) and the Samsung mobile device the smartwatch is paired to must have the latest version of Samsung’s Gear Manager app installed. There is no over-the -air update option.
After that, it’s a matter of following onscreen instructions.
What Do Galaxy Gear Owners Gain?
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo have sensors that the original Galaxy Gear lacks, so the original smartwatch won’t gain complete feature parity with the new models. However, Tizen is a compelling upgrade. According to Samsung, the benefits include:
- Improved Battery life
- Nearly double the number of 3rd party applications
- A standalone music player that takes advantage of the Galaxy Gear’s onboard storage to hold nearly 600 MP3s
- S Health sleep tracking
- S Health exercise syncing
- Customizable interface including backgrounds, fonts and menu layout
Are There Any Downsides?
Any data stored on the Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be wiped by the upgrade —something Samsung warns about as part of the installation process, and provides backup options. Third party apps you might have installed will gone too, since they require Android to run and the smartwatch is now running Tizen.
Most importantly, the upgrade is permanent. If you like things the way they are or have a favourite Android app for your Galaxy Gear, you might want to hold off upgrading it to Tizen. The device will remain perfectly functional without it…
Having the option of upgrading the Samsung Galaxy Gear to Tizen is almost like a do-over, the ability to gain all new functionality and future apps, without having to buy a new device.
Have questions about the latest developments in smartwatches and fitness trackers? Read Plug-in for the news, reviews and new product releases and check out Best Buy for all the coolest wearable gear.