Samsung smartwatch upgrades hit Canada next month
Company switches from Android to Tizen operating system for 2 models
Samsung will introduce its latest wearable devices to the Canadian market on April 11, switching to a new operating system for its Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches.
The company previously announced the same release date for its Galaxy S5 smartphone, which still runs on Android.
The sequel to the Android-based Galaxy Gear, Gear 2 is slightly slimmer and weighs about four grams less (68 grams). It also features the developer-friendly Linux-based Tizen OS, as does the newly released Neo (55 grams).
Both the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo feature 4GB of storage; music playback with Bluetooth-enabled earphones; and a heart rate monitor and pedometer. Calls are routed through a smartphone.
The Gear 2 has mostly metal framing and a 2.0-megapixel camera, while the Gear 2 Neo has no camera and its face and framing is mostly plastic.
Samsung moved from the awkward side-strap location for the Gear 2 camera to one just above the screen. It also moved the speaker phone from the back clasp to the watch's body, allowing for strap replacement.
Tizen gives the products a longer battery life of up to three days, while Android only gave the Galaxy Gear lasting power of a day and a half, according to industry insiders.
A third Samsung offering for next month is the Gear Fit, weighing 27 grams. It has a wraparound look of a bracelet and an AMOLED screen with horizontal swipe navigation.
It's not powered on either Andoroid or Tizen, but instead uses a more simplified real-time operating system, allowing for a smaller battery, but one that lasts just as long if not longer than the other two devices.
The fitness-themed Gear Fit can't take calls, but can reject them with preset messages and can receive email and SMS notifications from a connected smartphone.
Pricing specifics have not yet been revealed for the smartwatches. But it may come as no surprise, in light of the upgrades, that at least one Canadian carrier, Bell, this week dropped the price of the original Galaxy Gear to $99.97, down from $250.
Apple so far hasn't confirmed any plans for a smartwatch, but is widely expected to introduce one this year.
Google also targets consumers' wrists
The move will offer competition to Android smartwatches being developed by an array of companies, including Google-owned Motorola.
On Tuesday, Google released a new version of its Android software tailored for internet-connected watches and other wearable devices.
Reuters reported that Google is partnering with companies that include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Intel Corp. to develop a new line of watches in a project dubbed Android Wear.
With files from The Associated Press and Reuters