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Android Wear 2.0 update list confirms Samsung's abandonment of Google's platform

By
Deidre Richardson
 - 
Dec 28, 2016

Samsung launched the Gear Live running Android Wear, Google's wearables platform, back in 2014. In 2015, though, Samsung didn't launch a Gear Live 2 (or Gear Live followup smartwatch). 2016 has produced the same result: Samsung has failed to launch an Android Wear smartwatch but has instead made comments that appear as though the company is done with the platform altogether. Of course, it wasn't long before Samsung reneged on the claim, stating that it has not made an announcement about its abandonment of Android Wear.

Yes, it's true that Samsung has not made an announcement about it; and yet, actions speak louder than words. While Samsung hasn't made an announcement about Android Wear, it has taken few (if any) steps toward making a second AW smartwatch since the Gear Live's arrival two years ago. All the while, Samsung has been building its portfolio of Tizen-powered smartwatches: the Gear S (2014), Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic (2015), and this year's Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic. Samsung launched a fitness band this year as well called the Gear Fit2, a followup to the company's original Gear Fit launched in 2014 that runs Tizen for the first time (the original Gear Fit ran a Real Time Operating System, or RTOS, whose nature remains unknown, not Tizen).

Samsung has not only launched Tizen-powered smartwatches, but it has been busy making them better. Samsung has brought Samsung Pay, its mobile payment service, to the smartwatch, and launched the Gear S2 for iOS Beta Program to attract and encourage iPhone users. The Korean giant even announced the Gear S2 Classic Platinum and Rose Gold smartwatches for a more fashionable design, and provided 3G cellular-compatible Gear S2 models for even more mobility without always having a smartphone nearby.

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With the Gear S2, and now the Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic, Samsung continues to innovate with regard to its own platform, Tizen, instead of Android Wear. And Samsung's continued commitment to Tizen has some wondering if Samsung would update the Gear Live (its Android Wear smartwatch) to Google's upcoming Android Wear 2.0.

A new update list tells us that Samsung has no immediate plans with regard to Android Wear, that the Korean giant has practically abandoned Android Wear for now. The Android Wear 2.0 update list shows that numerous other watches from other OEMs will be updated, but Samsung's only Android Wear smartwatch is nowhere to be found.

Now, some will say that it makes sense that the Gear Live won't receive the 2.0 update because it is two years old. Well, that would seem reasonable if phones were in mind here. Since smartwatches haven't taken off at the same adoption rate as smartphones, it doesn't seem as though the two-year update policy is set in stone. This is also evidenced by the fact that the LG G Watch R will receive the upcoming major Android Wear update and it was announced in August 2014 and released later that Fall.

The G Watch R is now two years old and LG still has plans to see it updated to Android Wear 2.0. Some would say, "see, LG is the exception to the two-year rule," but again, that proves the point. If Samsung had wanted to keep the Gear Live updated in order to provide an opportune time to release another Android Wear smartwatch, it would have done so. The fact that LG chose to update its two-year old smartwatch and Samsung did not shows that Samsung is far more invested in Tizen than Android Wear (regardless of what is said in print).

The earlier report about Samsung's decision to move on past Android Wear said that "no more Samsung Android Wear devices are in development or being planned." And, with Samsung's desire to focus on Tizen instead of Android Wear, it's not surprising to see Samsung leave Android Wear alone altogether and not consider updating its only AW smartwatch to date (not to mention that Android Wear sales are poor compared to those of Samsung with its Gear S2 and now Gear S3 smartwatches).

What this means is that, for the time being, Samsung isn't even looking in the direction of Android Wear. If you ask me, Samsung made the right choice.

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