Samsung has two new smart watches launching in April, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, the sequels to the poorly reviewed original Galaxy Gear that debuted last fall.
But Samsung made an unexpected move in the new version by abandoning Android as the watch’s operating system. Instead, the new Gears run Tizen, another open source operating system that Samsung, Intel, and others are working on.
Some see the move to Tizen as a signal that Samsung wants to distance itself from its reliance on Google for software and services. After all, Samsung misses out on a lot of potential revenue when its customers use Google stuff.
That said, Samsung has another official reason for making the switch to Tizen: battery life and performance. Samsung’s director of product planning Drew Blackard told Business Insider in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the new Gears can get up to an extra two days of battery life by running Tizen, even though they have the same size battery. The original Android-powered Galaxy Gear barely made it through a day on one charge.
Android isn’t optimised to run on wearable devices like smart watches, and Blackard said Samsung didn’t want to wait around for Google to catch up.
“Today, Android isn’t optimised as a wearable platform,” Blackard said. “In the meantime, Samsung has been working on Tizen for a long time.”
Still, that could change again. Google will reportedly release a lightweight version of Android for wearable devices later this year.