Love it or hate it, Samsung keeps betting its wearable fortunes on Tizen, a homegrown OS that has so far only seen traction on the company’s other mobile devices. A new report today says that the first-generation of Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which launched running Android, will soon receive an update that swaps its Android OS out for Tizen.
According to a post on SamMobile, the Tizen rollout has already begun, with users being prompted to update their first-gen Galaxy Gears via Samsung’s software update program, Kies. So what’s the reason for the update? After all, the original Galaxy Gear is the only Samsung smartwatch to run Android, which has many, many more apps than Tizen.
The post says that Tizen will give the Galaxy Gear better battery life, not to mention more features optimized specifically for the Gear, like a standalone music player, as well as “customizable shortcuts for tap input, [and] voice commands in the camera.”
On the other hand, the update will also wipe the Galaxy Gear’s data clean. The post says that users will be able to back up their data before updating the operating system, but they will still have to re-pair the device with smartphones or tablets. Overall, a change like this might be pretty annoying to users who would rather not spend all day messing with their smartwatches.
The timing of this update is telling since the first Android Wear smartwatches are set to debut this summer. Samsung seems to want to throw all its weight behind Tizen, a strategy that may prove to be shortsighted once more competitors announce their own wearable devices. It appears that the company wants to set itself apart from its rivals, and using a unique operating system is a surefire way to do so. Moreover, being able to boast power efficiency is a solid way to appeal to users concerned about devices that can’t go the distance.
However, a smartwatch with long battery life is only as good as what you can do with it. Unless developers can be convinced to make apps for smartwatches running Tizen, the OS may not have much of a chance for the long haul. Time will tell whether or not going all in with Tizen is the right move.