Samsung’s release of its Gear 2 models earlier this year didn’t just signal that Samsung was crazy for wearables, not even waiting six months to launch its second-gen models, but marked a larger milestone: shifting a family that started off running Android over to Tizen. For while that first Galaxy Gear was Android at its core, the Gear 2 and its kin were powered by Samsung’s pet OS. We’ve still yet to see Samsung push Tizen into a commercial phone, but the platform’s spread from cameras to wearables sure does indicate that Samsung’s moving forward with it. Today we witness the next step in Tizen’s growth, as Samsung releases an update for the first-gen Galaxy Gear that brings the platform to the smartwatch.
We’re no strangers to seeing devices co-opted to run alternate platforms – we’ve messed around with Ubuntu ROMs and played the whole HTC HD2 OS-roulette game in our day – but seeing a manufacturer deliver an official update that permanently moves a product from one platform to another is something pretty darn noteworthy.
But what does this update actually mean for Galaxy Gear owners? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, and how positive the changes are is going to depend on what your usage looks like. On the plus side, there are new features like native music playback, and battery life is reportedly improved. In neutral territory, the look-and-feel of the UI is generally unchanged. But on the negative side, updating the watch (over Kies, at least) will wipe all its stored data, and we’re hearing that Tizen (unsurprisingly) breaks a number of third-party Galaxy Gear apps. Hopefully, at least that last point should be addressed as devs react to this release.