Samsung begins transitioning original Galaxy Gear from Android to Tizen (Update: now available in Canada)

Daniel Bader

May 30, 2014 9:52am

Samsung is well on its way to creating a wearables platform that does more than just mirror notifications from a smartphone. But in the meantime, the company’s first smartwatch, released merely nine months ago, is set to undergo a transformation — even if most users won’t realize anything has changed.

We reported a few weeks back that Samsung was to issue an update for the Galaxy Gear that would replace its Android firmware for Tizen, the company’s homegrown mobile OS. This is the same software that powers the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, which led to a boost in battery life and performance.

The update also adds a standalone music player so users can store tunes locally on the 4GB of internal storage. On the other hand, the update will cause many third party apps build on the Galaxy Gear’s Android-based SDK to stop working, so if you’re reliant on one or many you may want to hold off until a Tizen-built equivalent.

Update June 11th: We’ve just received word from Samsung Canada that the Android-to-Tizen rollout has begun for Galaxy Gear. The company notes that the upgrade will be available over KIES, Samsung’s desktop-based software, and will provide the following improvements:

  • Use the advanced exercise and sleep functions to sync with Samsung’s S Health platform
  • Side load up to 600 songs on 2.5 GB of storage for music player functionality
  • Increase personalization with the ability to change backgrounds, fonts and the menu layout
  • Access an expanded list of third party applications for even more enjoyment

For instructions on how to upgrade your smartwatch to Tizen, head to Samsung’s upgrade page.

SourceSamsung

  • It’s Me

    Seems like they are stepping on Google toes, given Google’s new wearables platform.

    • JTon

      Especially since they sent the device to market as android and then after it’s in users’ hands flip it to Tizen. Cheeky move.

    • nekkidtruth

      Makes you wonder how feasible it would be to up and swap any of their phones over to Tizen with any given update. Certainly an incredibly interesting “No thanks Google” that could be tossed out at any time.

      Speculation of course. It could be much more difficult to do with a phone, but it’s certainly eye opening.

    • AShut

      Or, how easy would it be to switch the Tizen devices to Android? XDA!

    • ddd

      Interesting, so there would be iOS, Android, BB, Windows, and then Tizen? That would shake things up a bit. Maybe if Windows phone dumped their OS and joined up with Tizen that would shake up the market?

    • alphs22

      Why would Microsoft dump their third-place OS (by marketshare) that took years and billions to develop, and is currently maturing and starting to gain traction – for one that virtually no one knows or cares about?

    • It’s Me

      MS wouldn’t be needed to shake things up. Samsung, being far and away the dominant android vendor (to the point that Samsung is android) would shake it up by themselves.

    • It’s Me

      Probably well founded speculation. Some of the docs from the trials shows Samsung would love to get out from under google and control their own platform.

      Add in compatible binaries and APIs and it becomes a real possibility.

  • Samuel Gomez Recuero

    Samsung might be able to live on Tizen for a while given their large device ecosystem and penetration on all coutries but I doubt that in the long run they can outdo google’s machine and its wearable platform, especialy when it comes to the number of applications available and their usability.

    I bet it will be easier to port or rebuild and app from stock android base to the wearable specs than it will be to Tizen

    • It’s Me

      Yeah but how many full Android apps are going to run on a watch? Most of them will be net new, so writing it for either would be new work. That and Tizen is supposed to be binary compatible with Android, AFAIK.

  • clee666

    How do I check if mine is upgraded to Tizen or still on Android?

    • Samuel Gomez Recuero

      check the options available under the setting menu, that is where they usually put something to access your device info.

  • monsterduc1000

    I’m a big fan of Samsung, but they already failed miserably with the Bada os just a few years ago. Maybe they can learn from the mistakes they made back then, but dissing Google by removing Android is a bad move. Android and Google made Samsung Mobile the juggernaut it is today. Watch now as Google limits Samsung support and make a big push for their new partner LG to become the next big thing.

    • It’s Me

      Yeah, but who is more exposed if they got tit for tat like that? Samsung moving to tizen seems like a bigger risk to google than google helping LG is to Samsung.

    • monsterduc1000

      If Samsung can’t get the apps and backers for Tizen it will fail miserably like Bada did. At least with Bada they made the attempt without switching already Android products to that os. I’m sure many customers won’t be happy about the switch to Tizen.

      Samsung needs Android and Google more than they need Samsung. Lg, Sony, Motorola and HTC make some great Android products and with more support from Google, Android will easily survive without Samsung.

    • It’s Me

      Binary and API compatibility with Android. No need to get apps if they are already there.

      If the _only_ difference to developers and users, for apps, was which store was involved, then it is transparent. The only thing Samsung gains, today, from android is the recognition of the platform and marketing. They have the money to do their own marketing.

      For many/most Samsung buyers, they are buying Samsung not android. If Samsung can make the transition transparent for users then they could do this. I’m not saying transplant tizen into android samsung’s, but new models could be tizen and many customer would just go buy the samsung they like, as they do now and have no idea it’s tizen.

    • monsterduc1000

      Possibly. But when people realize that Tizen doesn’t have the same functionality as Android (just like Bada) then it will fail just as quickly as that platform did.

    • It’s Me

      What would it be missing?

    • monsterduc1000

      From the sounds of it, sure…But no practical data has been gathered as of yet and if Samsung decides to go with in house chipsets instead of Qualcomm (maybe not an issue right now, but the Exynos chip is harder to develop for as many app developers and custom rom creators do not develop for Exynos), app developer support might dwindle.

      I’d like to see it succeed, but look at the trouble every other os has had going up against iOS and Android. None of them have succeeded. Samsung already failed only a few years ago with Bada. I find it hard to believe Tizen will be any different.

  • kyca

    ok just to clarify since this is a North American site and you think they would be current and accurate with the news they bring out. Then again I would be asking for to much. As of 05/31 there hasn’t been an firmware update for us in North America to upgrade the Galaxy Gear to Tizen. Maybe I won’t sell my Gear after all. Will wait and see.

    • raeg gear

      it’s live now (june 5) – Canada

  • Jason S

    my gear still says it has the latest update installed. and on kies it says “your device’s current firmware version is not supported to update firmware via kies. current firmware version : (XAC)

    • Hijak

      You need to enable USB Debugging before KIES will recognize the device is connected. Simply go into your settings on the gear, tap on the software version a few times and then once it is ready, back out one screen and click the checkbox