According to Samsung's latest batch of TV commercials touting the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, you'd think we were entering the dawn of a revolutionary new wristcentric mobile age. Meanwhile, the hands-on reviews of Gear have mostly found it to be a neat little toy that could use a bit more work.
One of Gear's most unfortunate drawbacks was the watch's incompatibility with anything except the Galaxy Note 3. No more! Beginning this month, Gear will finally spread its horizons and play nicely with other Galaxy devices.
Samsung announced Wednesday that Galaxy Gear will now work with the Galaxy S4, S III, and Note II through the latest Jelly Bean update. Samsung will also extend Gear compatibility to other Galaxy devices through a separate software update beginning at the end of October. Expect Gear compatibility to make its way to the Galaxy S4 mini, S4 Active, Mega 5.8, Mega 6.3, and S4 Zoom.
In the run-up to the Galaxy Gear announcement, we were hoping for an open device that could work with all mobile devices, but were disappointed to learn that Samsung seemed to view Gear as little more than an accessory for the Note 3.
While this new (slightly more) open approach may help Gear survive beyond this Christmas season, it is probably is not a viable long-term strategy. With the bounty of smartwatch competition coming down the pike, the market winner will be the one that that successfully embraces the largest swath of the varied mobile phone spectrum, not just a narrow band.