Samsung Gear 2 & Gear Neo 2 Launch: Android Out, Tizen OS In
Hells bells it's the brand spanking new Samsung Gear 2 and it's launch partner the Gear 2 Neo
Just like a giddy kid on Christmas Eve, Samsung just couldn’t wait another 24 hours for MWC 2014 to kick off in earnest and has officially unveiled its brand new Gear smartwatches: the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo. The most interesting aspect of these new wearable gadgets is that, unlike their predecessor, they do not run Android – and that’s pretty significant.
Samsung has been beavering away on Tizen for a good long while now but this is its first outing inside a piece of wearable technology. The two smartwatches no longer carry the Galaxy name, although Samsung maintains these new smartwatches will be “more compatible” than the last, supporting more than a dozen Galaxy handsets at launch.
“The Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo are essential companion devices, allowing you to accept or ignore incoming calls and messages, and providing notification options based on your activity and habits. Both act as an extension of your daily life, giving you more control with a range of standalone features. For example, you can control the other electronic products in your home, such as your TV and set-top box, through a WatchON Remote application with an embedded IrLED sensor. Plus, the addition of a standalone music player with Bluetooth headset means that even if you leave your smartphone at home, you can still enjoy your music when you are out and about,” said Samsung in a statement to the press.
Samsung didn’t say why it ditched Android in favour of Tizen OS – although it’s no secret the Korean manufacturer is desperately looking at ways to reduce its reliance on Google’s Android platform. And it seems this little campaign is starting with the Gear 2 smartwatches; phones and tablets will likely appear later on 2014 (and who knows: we may even see a few at MWC).
So what’s new in the Gear 2?
The overall design and finish has been modified slightly and the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are now slightly slimmer than their forefather. For the most part – we’ve only seen press shots thus far – the smartwatches do not look all that different. The camera has been moved, however, and now sits just above the display (previously, it was on the strap). Both feature standalone music players and support for Bluetooth 4.0, but only the Gear 2 has a camera.
You can express your mood or coordinate your device with your outfit thanks to a range of strap colour options; including Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange for the Galaxy Gear 2; and Charcoal Black, Mocha Grey and Wild Orange for the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo.
A lot of what made the Galaxy Gear good (and bad) remain in place. However Samsung has added in things like a heart rate monitor and tons of exercise modes – all of a sudden S-Health starts to make sense! Both smartwatches let you answer calls, read messages and check notifications from certain applications.
Inside there’s a dual-core 1GHz chipset (up from the Galaxy Gear’s 800MHz setup), 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The battery is a 300mAh cell and Samsung says it can last up to two or three days from a single charge. The Gear 2’s exact measurements are 36.9 x 58.4 x 10mm and it weighs 68g, while the Gear 2 Neo comes in at 37.9 x 58.8 x 10mm and weighs 55g. Both are IP67 Certified for dust and water resistance.
“Samsung continues to lead in the wearable technology market with innovative, creative devices that are completely integrated into the lives of our customers. Offering extended connectivity features, stylish customisation options and a robust application network, we have enhanced everything that people love about the original Galaxy Gear to create a second generation of wearable devices that offer unparalleled smart freedom,” said Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT & Mobile division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland.
How To Type?
It has also been announced that the Fleksy Keyboard will be available on the device. The developer of keyboard app Fleksy announced the touchscreen alternative will be available on the Samsung Gear 2.
On such a small touchscreen, 1.63-inches, it’s difficult to type and the keyboard will allow you to send messages with much more ease than before.
“Fleksy's patent-pending technology is uniquely positioned for wearable devices. Fleksy allows users to accurately type on any device, regardless of size, and we are very excited to work with Samsung to finally bring this unique technology to the Gear 2.0," said Ioannis Verdelis, COO of Fleksy.
"This is an important milestone in our mission to make touchscreen typing easier on wearable devices. We are now bridging the gap between your smartwatch and smartphone, making it easier for you to communicate directly from your wrist.”
The app will be available once the Samsung Gear 2 is released.
Samsung Gear Fit
Complicating things further is the Samsung Gear Fit, a type of Nike FuelBand gizmo with a curved AMOLED display that monitors your bodily functions, as well as displaying notifications and updates from a connected Galaxy handset. Again, there’s no word on pricing – although the Gear Fit will likely be cheaper than the Gear 2 smartwatch.
Samsung says the Gear Fit is like having a personal trainer on your wrist; the gizmo links up with a Galaxy handset – presumably using BLE 4.0 – and liaises with Samsung’s S-Health 3.0 application to give you up to the minute metrics on how much you’re exerting your body.
“We’re excited to be expanding our Gear product portfolio with a range of unique devices so there is something for everyone, irrespective of their different lifestyles, interests and needs,” said Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT & Mobile division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland.
“The new range includes the Gear Fit which we’ve designed specifically to help those of our customers that want to live a more fit and active life but don’t want to sacrifice their own personal style or ability to stay connected on the go.”
The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit will be available in the UK and the rest of the world from April 11 alongside the Galaxy S5. Samsung has yet to confirm prices, however, although the Gear 2 Neo is expected to retail for quite a bit less than the Gear 2.