Samsung launched today a new smart watch, the Gear 2, after a first version won over few critics, adding new features and ditching Google's Android in favour of its own operating system.
The South Korean electronics giant revealed the new watch in an unexpected announcement on the eve of the February 24-27 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
Samsung is unveiling tomorrow its new flagship smartphone, almost certainly the Galaxy S5, and it had been expected to show off the new watch at the same time.
Besides an array of features including sports tracking software and a heart rate monitor, the Gear 2 marks an important and widely rumoured step towards independence from Android.
The watch, available in two models -- the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo, which has no camera -- will be powered by the Tizen operating system developed by Samsung with various partners to break free of the Android dominance.
Android powered 78.4 percent of smartphones worldwide last year, according to technology consultants Gartner Inc., making it easier for users to switch phones and harder for manufacturers to build customer loyalty. Apple's iOS system accounted for another 15.6 percent of smartphones.
The Gear 2, available worldwide from April, has a 1.63-inch screen, a 2.0 megapixel camera that can take high definition video, a heart rate sensor and pedometer, audio that can work with a Bluetooth headphone, remote control for devices such as televisions, and an alert system for incoming text messages and emails. The wrist strap comes in black, orange and brown.
The first Gear, launched last September, was criticised by many for being unfashionable and unwieldy.
Samsung, like other device makers, is banking on smart devices to boost revenue as sales of smartphones slow in the mature, and most profitable markets.