samsung galaxy gear 2 neo mwc jan 2014 start buttonImage: Melissa Riofrio

Samsung announces Tizen SDK to boost app ecosystem for Gear 2 smartwatches

Add another smartwatch family to the list of wearables with its own open SDK. Samsung wants to supercharge software development for the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, and on Monday it announced that the Tizen Software Development Kit for Wearables is available for download.

In a world where mobile hardware if often judged by how many apps a device supports, the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch left a lot of tech reviewers wanting for more. Samsung limited software development to select partners for that first-generation Android-based device, but the company’s new watches run the Tizen OS, and its software platform is open to all.

samsung galaxy gear 2 mwc jan 2014 Image: Melissa Riofrio

Tizen software can be written with Javascript and HTML5, opening up the possibility for coders steeped in web development to create new apps for Samsung’s wearables. It’s also worth noting that Monday’s SDK release beats the arrival of Google’s own wearable-specific Android SDK, which was announced at South by Southwest, and should be available this week or next.

Pebble, too, has a smartwatch SDK, as does Sony and Qualcomm. Your takeaway? The world loves apps—Candy Crush, anyone?—and hardware companies will do anything to propagate an apps ecosystem beyond smartphones and tablets. Apps spur engagement, customer loyalty, and of course revenue. Samsung can’t abandon Android for all its Galaxy handsets and tablets, but wearables are a wide open (and immature) field, and Samsung doesn’t necessarily need Android to establish a foothold in this sector.

In addition to announcing the SDK, Samsung shared details on 23 Tizen-based apps that will be available for the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. You can see specifics for yourself on this press release, but it’s worth noting how many are dedicated to activity tracking. Focus TRAINR, Sleep Genius and Strava are notable inclusions. Samsung is clearly focusing on the Gear 2’s activity sensors, which now include a heart rate monitor.

The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit activity tracker are scheduled for a public release on April 11.

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