Samsung ditches Android for Tizen with second smartwatch range

24/02/2014

Samsung has showcased its second attempt at smartwatches, with two new versions of its Gear range, running on its own Tizen operating system rather than Android.

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The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches are companion devices to the Galaxy smartphones, although last year's model was poorly received by both critics and consumers.

The company demonstrated the Gear 2 device alongside another new model, the lighter Gear 2 Neo at its own event in Barcelona, one day ahead of the Mobile World Congress in the same city.

Both have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and various tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels.

Tizen OS

The watches run on Tizen OS, a fledgling mobile operating system, rather than Google's Android software.

The move is being seen as part of a wider strategy from Samsung to move away from Google's platform and to lessen its reliance on the search giant's product.

Crucial to Tizen's longer-term success will be whether it can attract the same breadth and quality of apps compared to Apple's App Store and Google Play.

Currently the Tizen app store includes apps from CNN, Ebay, Evernote and Paypal and others, as well as some workarounds that allow Android apps to run on the platform.

Getting mainstream attention

After sales of the first smartwatch stalled, Samsung is hoping the new devices will catch on top mainstream conumers with a range of new features and enhancements.

Firstly, the battery life of the new devices is considerably better. Samsung promises two to three days of power - much more than the charge-every-night issue suffered by the company's first effort.

The Gear 2's camera is now situated on the main body of the device, taking it away from the strap and removing some of the rigid bulk of the Galaxy Gear.

The Gear 2 Neo does not have a camera, but is 13g lighter as a result.

Samsung has heralded both devices as offering "freedom and style" - but despite bringing in extra design expertise, the watch still looks very much a technology product, rather than a fashion accessory.

Galaxy S5 launch

Samsung is expected to launch the latest iteration of its flagship smartphone range, presumably to be called the Galaxy S5, at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress on Monday night.

The current model, the S4, has proved to be a hugely popular product for the South Korean firm, and is widely considered the only real rival to Apple's iPhone.

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