Earlier this month, we reported on a firmware update that was making its way to the Galaxy Gear, intended on fixing some of the issues with the smartwatch. The rollout began in Europe on November 15, and since then I have been obsessively hitting the update button, wondering when it would arrive in Canada. Lo and behold, the update has come, so download away!
The biggest change in firmware version V700XXUAMK7 is the removal of Gear’s notification limitations when paired to a Galaxy handset. Since launch, Gear notifications have only worked with Samsung stock software like Email, Alarm, Messages, S Planner , and a few third-party apps from Samsung Apps, like Path.
The update firmware, along with an updated Galaxy Gear Android Manager app (which has been available since mid-November), now shows notification content from any application. This includes apps like Hangouts, Gmail, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and others.
The new firmware also solves my other biggest complaint: the receipt of useless notifications. In the past, many of the messages, especially those from Gmail or Hangouts, would frustratingly tell you to check your phone to see what the message was. Notifications now show you previews in the pop-up messages and tapping on the notification will now show you message details.
The new firmware improves the prominence of Notifications, bringing the section up to the top menu. There are also new security features included in the update.
In the short time that I have used Gear since the update, I have noticed missed notifications on the device when compared to the activity in my Samsung Note 3’s notification panel. In addition, I found that for Gmail in particular, the messages I do receive are grouped together, making them garbled and difficult to parse.
It seems that Samsung still has some work to do to improve the reliability of notifications before being true contender in this space. These same issues are some of the major reasons I selected Pebble over the Gear in our Wearable Wars article.
This firmware update does prove that many of the kinks causing grief to Galaxy Gear users are on the software side, so its just a matter of time before they get it all right — at least, I hope.