Gear smartwatch will soon work with more Samsung smartphones

Owners of several recent Galaxy devices will be able to use the Gear to answer phone calls

Samsung Electronics is updating products including the Galaxy S4 and Note II so they can communicate with the company's Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

When Samsung launched the smartwatch last month it only worked with the Galaxy Note 3, but the company will this month start distributing two software updates that add another eight products to the compatibility list.

The Galaxy S4, S III and Note II will work with the smartwatch as soon as they have been upgraded to Android 4.3. The update is already available to users in Germany, Samsung said. The Galaxy S4 mini, S4 Active, S4 zoom, Mega 5.8 and Mega 6.3 will receive a separate update, which will go out to the first users before the end of the month. However, some carriers can take a while to vet and deliver Android updates to their customers, and Samsung said schedules for each device will vary by country and carrier.

When the Gear is linked to a compatible phone, it lets users preview messages received by the phone, answer and place calls thanks to an integrated speaker, run apps written for the device, and take pictures with its 1.9-megapixel camera. The device has a 1.6-inch display and is powered by a 800MHz processor.

The Gear's September launch was preceded by months of speculation and a level of hype that Samsung wasn't able to live up to.

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