Samsung’s Tizen-Based Gear S2

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge after some hands-on time with Samsung’s upcoming new watch:

The impressive things with the Gear S2 don’t end with its new design: Samsung’s actually figured out a really smart interaction model for smartwatches that I’m shocked no one else has done yet. There’s the touchscreen, yes, just like most other smartwatches, and the Gear S2 has a couple buttons on its side for home and back. But its real trick is in the rotating bezel, which lets you quickly and easily scroll through lists, apps, watch faces, and whatever else you might be looking at on the screen. It’s more predictable and intuitive than the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown and is a joy to use.

It does seem clever, and it’s a design that embraces the circular watch face.

The S2’s screen is colorful, sharp, and bright, and looked great in the few minutes I got to spend with the watch. It has an always on ambient mode — like many Android Wear watches — that makes it easy to quickly check the time. But this isn’t an Android Wear watch: it’s running Samsung’s proprietary Tizen platform. In the past, that was a huge red warning flag, but Samsung’s cleaned up its act, and the software on the Gear S2 is fast and intuitive. There are lots of different watch faces to choose from, including new “dynamic” faces that can update with various bits of information, and you can see all of your phone’s notifications and reply to incoming messages with canned responses, emoji, or text dictated by voice.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Using Tizen is huge. It separates Samsung from everyone using Android Wear, and gives them what Apple has: complete control over everything. I’d still bet against them switching to Tizen on the phones — even if they can pull it off technically, it’d be so hard for them to get iOS/Android levels of third-party developer support.

  • They’ve gotten the size down to something reasonable. I still think these look like men’s watches though, both because of their size and their design cues.

  • From what I’ve seen in the videos and photos, it looks like Samsung is using black backgrounds for most of the UI, like Apple Watch does. Android Wear’s use of white and primary-colored backgrounds just doesn’t look good on a watch.

Thursday, 3 September 2015