It’s all over the news. Samsung is planning to release its Gear Manager app on iOS App Store which will officially make its latest smartwatch, Samsung Gear S2, compatible with iPhone. Smart move, considering this is a fine piece of device. There are a number of reasons why you should consider to pick this over Apple Watch:
- Rounded bezel makes it more like you are wearing a watch instead of a gadget
- Gear S2 uses rotating bezel for navigation vs Apple Watch’s digital crown, personally it feels more natural
- More affordable – Gear S2 Classic ($350) finishing is equivalent to Apple Watch edition (not Sport) 38mm with leather band ($650)
- Gear S2 Classic is also compatible with any strap that has a standard 20mm pin
- Apple Watch was released sooner which means it might already close to its end of life and the next generation coming soon
However, I am trying not to put too much hope regarding when Samsung is actually going to get its Gear Manager iOS app available. It is known to be less committed to deliver when it comes to software products. Apple also plays a big role whether the app is going to pass on the app approval process.
Does this mean iPhone users are completely out of options to use the Gear S2? Not really.
Samsung Gear S2 could connect with iPhone… before the firmware update
Surprisingly, the earlier version of Gear S2’s firmware allows the device to connect and communicate with iPhone out of the box. Based on reports from passionate users on XDA Developers Forums, updating to later firmware version will break this functionality. Don’t ask me why the developers took this one step back.
So the best chance to use Samsung Gear S2 with iPhone is not to connect it to the Gear Manager app (on Android) at all. You will not be able to use it optimally, but in my opinion better than not connecting at all with your primary phone.
Activate Samsung Gear S2 in standalone mode – bypass the activation
Like most smartwatches, you need to connect the device as you unbox it with a smartphone running its supporting app. Same case with Samsung Gear S2, when you turn it on the very first time it will guide you to connect it through its Gear Manager companion app. Otherwise you will not be able to use it at all.
Turns out you can bypass this process and use it as standalone mode and only running with its default apps and watch faces. Here are the steps:
- When prompted to connect to Gear Manager app, tap on the small yellow icon on the top of the screen multiple times.
- A message will pop up and ask you do a long press, follow the instructions
- Viola, it will open the home screen and you can start using the watch
Next step is to connect the watch with your iPhone via Bluetooth like you normally do with other accessories. There, you have successfully connected Samsung Gear S2 with your iPhone.
What’s working and what’s not
As mentioned above, do not expect anything fancy out of your Gear S2 in standalone mode. The default apps are very limited and you cannot add new watch faces. You’ll get almost every single notification, including when you are getting an incoming call, from your iPhone on the Gear S2 screen. The bad news is you cannot actually interact with it.
So far, I can live with this. At least until Samsung fulfills its promise and get Gear Manager app available in the App Store.
Update January 7, 2017: Samsung Gear S on App Store
Samsung’s official Gear S for iOS has been officially released and can be downloaded here.
Thanks for all readers who have been following and contributing to this post.
Update April 14, 2016: Gear Manager iOS leak
One of the fine readers of this post shared what seems to be a leaked (non-final) version of Samsung Gear Manager for iOS. Please read this comment below onwards for steps to connect the app from your iPhone to the Gear S2. Thank you David, Steven, Matchev and Russ for sharing your experience testing the leaked/demo app.