Samsung was one of the first major smartphone makers to jump on the smartwatch ship, and, unsurprisingly, its first smartwatch didn’t use Google’s nascent Android Wear back then. It struck off on its own with a customized version of Android running inside the Samsung Galaxy Gear. It has come full circle and has returned to Android again, this time with Wear OS running on the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 series. Surprisingly, there might still be some owners of the Galaxy Gear around, and Samsung is now urging them to switch to its Tizen OS if they want access to some smartwatch apps.
The Galaxy Gear launched way back in 2013 and was the only one of its kind, so it’s rather surprising to hear that Samsung still has the smartwatch and its users in mind eight years after. Even more surprising is that Samsung was actually still running a version of its app store specifically for that Android-based OS after all this time. Samsung is shutting that down next month, however, but it hasn’t abandoned owners of the smartwatch just yet (another surprise).
Samsung actually gave Galaxy Gear owners a way forward back in 2014 when it was clear that it wasn’t going to stick to its own Android smartwatch OS. Back then, it offered an update to its new Tizen-based wearable platform, the very same OS that would take Samsung’s smartwatches to relative success for a couple of years. Apparently, not everyone took the opportunity back then, but Samsung is now pretty much forcing their hand.
An update to the Samsung Galaxy Store notifies owners of the smartwatch that it will be shutting down the Galaxy Store for Galaxy Gear devices on August 5, 2021. While the smartwatch will continue to function, users won’t be able to install or reinstall apps after that date. They can upgrade to Tizen moving forward if they want access to apps, but it’s a one-way street and there’s no turning back. Moreover, not all Galaxy Gear apps will be available on Tizen, but there might be similar ones by now.
It is rather impressive that Samsung has apparently managed to support a relatively obscure 2013 smartwatch for this long. Unfortunately, the same story can’t be said for more recent Tizen-based smartwatches that may be blocked from upgrading to the new Samsung-branded Wear OS. Whether that’s because of hardware requirements or some arbitrary policy from Google remains a mystery.