Samsung ultimately adopted Google’s Wear OS last year after using its own Tizen operating system for smartwatches for the greater part of a decade. However, the Gear S3, Samsung’s 2016 wristwatch, has been able to run Wear OS thanks to a creative developer.

Since 2018, Samsung has branded its smartwatch lineup as Galaxy Watch. Prior to that, the Gear line consisted primarily of two smartwatches: the Gear S2 from 2015, which debuted the iconic rotating bezel, and the Gear S3 from 2016, which really dialed in Samsung’s smartwatch prowess in the Android market.

When we reviewed the Gear S3 in 2016, we complimented its design and health features, referring to it as the smartwatch of the future. Even while we were generally pleased with the product at the time, we did point out how much of an app gap there had been between Tizen and what was then Android Wear. At the time, we had no idea that Samsung would eventually switch out the OS completely as a result of this ongoing issue.

Today, a developer has effectively fixed the issues Tizen caused with the Gear S3 by simply installing Wear OS on it. This specialized ROM for the Gear S3 delivers Wear OS 2’s H MR3 update, as described in an XDA forum thread . Wear OS 3 cannot yet be ported for clear reasons. The specialized ROM is made for the Gear S3 Frontier (SM-R760), however it should also function on the Classic version. The LTE models cannot be used.

What advantages does the switch provide? Samsung’s smartwatch now supports Google Assistant, the Play Store and its abundance of apps and watchfaces, among other features, with Wear OS on a Gear S3. Even your Google account and all of Wear OS’s major features are compatible with the ROM. Even better, the revolving bezel functions just like a watch’s rotating crown.

What is wrong? There are certain issues, as there are with any port. This custom ROM is detected by the Wear OS software as a TicWatch Pro 3 rather than a Gear S3, which isn’t really a problem but more something you’ll need to be aware of during setup. According to Tizen, battery life is terrible. Until you reboot, the charging animation will also keep playing, and some of the sensors will not function. Additionally broken are the tilt-to-wake feature, GPS, NFC, and the step counter.

Installing this on your own device is, of course, done at your own risk. However, the fact that the development community is still expressing interest in this outdated technology is quite astonishing. Although the Gear S3 was already a fantastic smartwatch, Wear OS may make it even better for some people.

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