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Samsung Debuts Apple Watch Competitor, Gear S2

The official launch date for the Gear S2 is still two weeks away, but Samsung is providing a sneak preview of its answer to the Apple Watch via a new video posted on its YouTube channel. Backed by a pulsing, techno-pop beat, the video shows a silver-tone digital timepiece with a round face, and teases at a number of features ranging from voice calls and messaging to fitness and scheduling.

Samsung plans to unveil the Gear S2 at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show scheduled for September 4-9 in Berlin. The company also dropped hints about the device during last week’s Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event in New York.

The new device sports a radically different look from the oversize Gear S smart watch released in November. The Gear S more closely resembled the rectangular shape of the Gear line of smart watches first launched in 2013. The video for the new device states simply, “What’s next is circular. The new Samsung Gear S2 is coming. Ready to turn.”

Android or Tizen?

It’s unclear what operating system will drive the new Gear S2. While the first Gear watch ran on Google’s open source-based Android mobile operating system, the Gear 2 was released with Tizen, a Linux-based OS with a wearables focus that’s being developed in a collaborative effort led by the Linux Foundation. Samsung last year was the first manufacturer to come out with a Tizen-based smartphone, the Samsung Z.

Like the Apple Watch, the Gear S2 features a number of round icons for controlling different apps. Among the icons appearing on the watch face in the video are images for settings, a calendar, a microphone, weather, fitness, phone calls and text messaging. The preview information for the device at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked hinted that consumers “are in for even more surprises very soon.”

Wearables Will ‘Transform the Enterprise’

Samsung is working with a number of partners across numerous industries to “make inroads in the enterprise wearables category,” according to a white paper the company produced with the analyst firm IDG earlier this year.

Wearable devices like smart watches are “poised to transform the enterprise with their promise of hands-free, on-the-go work scenarios and real-time data access that will propel business productivity to new heights,” the white paper noted. More than 19 million wearables were sold in 2014; that figure is expected to rise to nearly 112 million by 2018, according to IDG.

In the workplace, wearables are increasingly seen as a way to complement smartphones and other devices used by employees on the go. They are also key to Samsung’s Internet of Things initiative, in which the company plans to invest more than $100 million to help developers make the most of its IoT-compatible devices by 2017.

“Vertical industries have been pioneering the use of wearables in business, and as wearables enter the mainstream, they’re going to open up new potential for information workers as well,” Timothy Wagner, senior vice president of Samsung Business Sales at Samsung Electronics America, noted in the IDG white paper.

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