Samsung has announced that the Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be made compatible with the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2.
The Galaxy Gear is currently only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. However, the Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) update will extend compatibility to the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2.
Samsung will also extend Galaxy Gear compatibility to other Galaxy devices – including the Galaxy S4 Mini, S4 Active, Mega 5.8, Mega 6.3, and Galaxy S4 Zoom – through a separate software update beginning globally at the end of October. Software update schedules for each device will vary by country and operator.
“Extending the Galaxy Gear compatibility to more Galaxy devices reflects our deep commitment to continuing to deliver our consumers enriched mobile experiences,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile division, Samsung Electronics.
The Galaxy Gear will enable Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2 users to make and answer calls and view incoming messages and notifications with just a glance. For a closer look at more important messages, users can simply pick up their master device and the Smart Relay feature instantly reveals the full content.
With a 1.9 Megapixel camera, users can snap photos by tapping the Galaxy Gear’s screen. Photos are automatically saved in the master device’s gallery.The smartwatch also has a built-in Pedometer app and can be used to control the music played on the master device.
Samsung said the Android 4.3 update will also provide easier text input, and updated graphics and multimedia. Some Samsung features and applications will also be updated, including Knox (Samsung’s mobile security solution), Smart Switch (which transfers content from other smartphones to Samsung devices) and HomeSync cloud storage.
Technology analyst firm Canalys predicts the smartwatch market will boom over 2014 with the release of a “new generation of devices”, with up to five million smartwatches being shipped by the end of the year.
“Smartwatches will be the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad defined the market for tablets,” said Chris Jones, a vice president at the firm.
“Software platforms tied to smartwatches will also be a tremendous opportunity for developers to write apps in categories such as health and wellness or sports and fitness.”
However, Samsung’s decision not to make the Galaxy Gear compatible with smartphones made by other manufacturers has been criticised by some reviewers, and is likely to limit sales of the device.