Samsung makes its Gear smartwatches more attractive with new bands, features

Motorola may be rethinking its wearable strategy after announcing it wasn’t planning to release a new Moto 360 alongside the upcoming release of Android Wear 2.0, but Samsung is more committed than ever to its smartwatch platform.

Gear S2 owners who have been envious of the G3’s new features can stop ogling their friends’ watches. A new Value Pack update delivers many of the new smartwatch’s goodies to the older model, including the pre-loaded watch faces, Reminders and Alt-Barometer apps, and Handwriting Mode, where users can sketch words and emoji instead of typing or dictating them. Also part of the update is expanded S Health functionality for running, walking, cycling, and other exercises, as well as a beefed-up bezel for taking calls, silencing alarms, and scheduling events.

For Gear S3 users, there is a new family of designer bands to choose from. SLG Design and Strap Studios have partnered with Samsung to release more than 20 new straps for the smartwatch, ranging from hand-sewn leather to carbon fiber and canvas. Prices range from $29 to $109 and are available in a variety of colors for either the classic or Frontier S3.

Why this matters: Android Wear smartwatches are in something of a holding pattern while we wait for next year’s release of version 2.0, but Samsung is charting its own path with its Tizen-based line of wearables. Today’s announcements may seem minor, but every move puts a little more pressure on Samsung’s Android Wear competitors to deliver a comprehensive strategy for the platform in the new year.

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