Undated photo made available Sunday Feb 23 2014 by Samsung of a Gear 2, one of two new computerized wristwatches, this time including health sensors and related fitness features to give people a reason to buy one, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Spain. Samsung's first Galaxy Gear smartwatch came out last fall amid much fanfare, but it landed with a thud in the marketplace. (AP Photo)
Just in time for Mobile World Congress, Samsung has announced the second version of its Gear smartwatch.
The Gear 2 and camera-less Gear 2 Neo include a dual-core processor, 4GB of built-in storage, and integrated heart rate monitors and pedometers. Both watches are water-resistant and the camera-enabled version grabs 2-megapixel stills.
The Gear also dropped the "Galaxy" name, because this version's not based on Android.
Instead, Samsung went with Tizen — the alternative, multiplatform OS it’s been working on with Intel since 2012. The Gear 2 will be one of Samsung's first Tizen products. (Via CNET)
The company is planning a companion app store, with first-run smartwatch software from names like CNN, Evernote, Path and The Weather Channel.
There's a good technical reason for Tizen, as one analyst tells PCWorld:
"Android is incredibly hungry in terms of memory footprint and battery consumption. Therefore a more efficient OS might appeal to vendors because they can … address one of the big shortcomings of wearables right now, which is battery life."
And as Engadget points out, it gives Samsung an excuse to leave its first smartwatch behind and start fresh.
"It probably makes sense why the manufacturer would want to antiquate it as soon as possible -- while an interesting concept, the wearable was clearly half-baked."
Samsung isn't wasting time moving on: this announcement comes just five months after the original Gear hit shelves. And Samsung's first smartwatch had its hurdles — software wasn't full-featured yet, for example, which made some of its notification features less useful. In some cases reviewers at Bloomberg had trouble getting it to even display time the way it was supposed to. (Via The Wall Street Journal)
And the Galaxy Gear started out as being compatible with just one handset. Four other models have since made the short list, but the next Gear will talk to dozens of Samsung's smartphones right out of the gate.
Samsung didn't indicate pricing for its new watches, but said it was planning for April availability.
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