samsung galaxy gear aa 16

This week, Samsung will push an update to the U.S. variant of the Galaxy Gear that adds better third-party notification support and increases battery life.

After the update to the Samsung Galaxy Gear users will be able to receive full notifications from third-party apps directly on their wrist. That means, for example, that Gmail will finally display message previews on the Galaxy Gear, making it easy to see if an email is worth reading right away. When the Galaxy Gear first shipped, apps like Gmail, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, or any other non-Samsung app, could only display an icon on the smartwatch. The lack of full notifications was a major knock against the Galaxy Gear, and caused many to question the device’s usefulness.

With full notification support the Galaxy Gear can potentially compete with other smartwatches such as the Pebble and the Sony Smartwatch 2.

The Galaxy Gear update will also improve some of the basic features of the smartwatch. Samsung claims the update will improve the Smart Relay feature of the Galaxy Gear, which lets users open tasks on their phone from their smartwatch. Users will also see an improvement to the lift-and-pause gesture that turns on the clock after the update.

European users who received the update to the Galaxy Gear report increased battery life, though Samsung makes no claim to improving battery life with the update.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch currently only works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and some Galaxy S4 devices, but will soon work with more Samsung devices. As Samsung updates its devices to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean it will add support for the $299 smartwatch.

The question is: will anybody actually want the Galaxy Gear after the update? Or are they waiting for a better competitor to come along?