The Samsung Gear S2 brought a lot of new features to the Tizen smartwatch implementation of HERE Maps. Most notably, and long asked for, is the ability to do driving navigation autonomously from the watch. The original Gear S could do offline maps, and autonomous navigation, but curiously it would only do that for mass transit (autonomously) and walking directions (when paired with a Samsung phone)… it does not provide navigation for driving your own car, even when paired to a phone.
With the Gear S having the same Tizen app compatibility range as the Gear S2, and some preferring the curved/larger screen of the original Gear S, many wanted to know if HERE was going to update the Gear S version of the app.
Sadly, the answer is no. HERE today confirmed to PhoneNews.com that driving directions, and all the HERE Maps enhancements in the Gear S2 version, will remain exclusive to the Gear S2. “Driving directions will only be available for the Gear S2…” was the brief statement that HERE provided to us on the subject.
The Gear S is now available in refurbished form for as little as $150, complete with unlocked 3G radio and GPS. But without app providers maintaining support, Gear S owners may be in for an isolated existence.
Android’s fragmentation framework provides more traditional support for older devices, by making it simple for older Android System versions to be supported with newer app upgrades. It appears that Tizen may not have the same kind of backwards compatibility, despite its rootings in the Qt framework.
This may not completely be HERE’s fault, however. HERE Maps is a system app, and can only be updated with a Gear S firmware update. Considering the costs of updating firmware (including carrier approval, needed on the Gear S on all four carriers), Samsung may not be interested in subjecting an updated HERE Map app to carriers for scrutiny – particularly on a device that they no longer sell.
This bad news comes as Samsung is racing to improve adoption for the Gear S2. It was revealed this week that Samsung may be working to implement iOS support, similar to Android Wear for iOS. The Gear S2, unlike the Gear S, already works with non-Samsung Android phones natively.