The next Samsung Gear smartwatch will, for the first time in the company's history, have a round screen.
Timed to coincide with the Apple Watch going on sale, an announcement by Samsung says developers will soon be able to get their hands on the software development kit (SDK) for its next smartwatch. The announcement includes a teaser image showing a circular user interface with a London weather forecast.
All previous Gear wearables by Samsung have featured square screens, as does the Apple Watch. The Motorola Moto 360, LG G Watch R and Watch Urbane, and the Huawei Watch all have round screens which let developers create traditional-looking faces for them. The next Samsung watch is thought to be known internally as Project Orbis.
The image also shows circular screenshots of applications running on a round-faced smartwatch. These include apps from CNN, Yelp, Baidu, FidMe and Apposter. Just as Apple gives developers time to create applications for new products before they go on sale - so when they arrive consumers have a healthy selection to install - Samsung is hoping to grow an ecosystem of apps ahead of its next watch hitting the high street.
There is no word on when the new Samsung Gear will be formally announced or go on sale, but the IFA technology trade show in Berlin is a likely target, with Samsung traditionally hosting an event the day before, which this year would be 3 September.
Although a round face makes smartwatches look less like wrist-worn computers and more like conventional timepieces, round screens have their disadvantages. Android Wear running on circular smartwatches cuts off the corners of the user interface, forcing the user to scroll more to read every line of a text or email. Samsung is expected to use its own Tizen software with the next Gear.
In a company blog post Samsung Electronics CEO JK Shin said: "Samsung has actively adapted its approach to wearable device development as the leader of the rapidly developing category. Through meaningful and progressive innovation, Samsung welcomes to developers and industry leaders to join this open collaboration effort to enrich and create unique user experience for a new smart mobile life."