Samsung Galaxy Gear

... but there's still plenty of room for improvement.

We've been patiently awaiting the updated firmware for the U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and this morning it is finally available.

The firmware update brings the software to MK7. The big seller is you now have better notifications from non-Samsung apps (but you'll have to dive down a couple layers in the Gear Manager app to activate them). Notifications themselves could still see some improving. In Gmail, for example, receiving a single e-mail gives you the ability to actually read the body, as well as the sender and subject. But if you get multiple emails at once, the Gear shows you the sender and subject line, but that's it — and all the subjects run together. (The Qualcomm Toq suffers from this same malady.)

Here's the full changelog:

  • Improved range and connection: Samsung says the Gear can now stray a little farther from the phone before losing its connection. That's good — it felt pretty short before. The automatic connection feature has been improved as well.
  • Improved battery life. Again, that addresses one of the chief complaints about the Gear. We'll have to see how much longer it lasts.
  • S Voice search should be faster.
  • "Your Gear's performance has been improved and its features have been enhanced." Whatever that means.

We're going to spend a few days with this new-and-improved Galaxy Gear to see what's what. For now, make sure you've got the latest version of the Gear Manager app, and see if you can update over the air. If you get a message saying "The maximum number of roll-outs has been exceeded," you can download Samsung's KIES software, say a little prayer, and update over USB.

More: Galaxy Gear forums; SmartwatchFans.com