Tizen: The new mobile OS championing openness

Tizen: The new mobile OS championing openness
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

October 7th 2013 at 10:00AM

Develop speaks to Linux about its new open source OS that is being embraced by Samsung and mobile SDK providers

Linux was the stallion (albeit the flightless penguin) that bounded in to offer producers and consumers an alternative to the two-horse OS race between Windows and Macintosh. Leading a consortium of other open source projects, it is now looking to do the same in the mobile space.

Tizen is an open source, standards-based operating system designed for a broad range of devices. The platform is based on the equally open Linux OS, which has been gaining ground in last few years as one of the systems of choice for smartphones.

Brian Warner of the Linux Foundation“In the highly competitive mobile device space, Tizen stands out for its unique ability to create and to grow a new, open and flexible mobile operating system that allows developers to write once/run on many devices. As a result, Tizen breathes fresh air into the mobile market by enabling innovation from both industry leaders and individual enthusiasts,” Brian Warner, senior member services manager at the Linux Foundation tells Develop.

While focused on mobile, Tizen aims to offer a robust unified experience across multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, PCs and in-vehicle ‘infotainment’ systems.

Tizen is not based on proprietary tech, but rather on a broad collection of open source projects, including Linux. Apps can be written using either industry-standard open specifications such as HTML5 and JavaScript, or using the native Tizen toolkits.

Other platforms relegate such technologies to web-specific second-class citizens in some instances, but Tizen is embracing the benefits of widely adopted cross-platform web technologies to empower game creators.

Popular game development engines and SDKs, including Unity, Havok and Marmalade, are already adapting their editors for the Tizen framework.

Warner says: “With its open source and standards heritage, one of Tizen’s main goals is to replace a complicated landscape of vertically integrated platform solutions with an open and transparent consortium.”

Samsung is among the first major handset providers to throw its weight behind Tizen

The first commercial Tizen devices are not yet available, so there currently are no public examples of Tizen-built games beyond those presented at the Tizen Developer Conference.

However, major hardware manufacturers are already making moves to change that.

Tech giants Samsung and Intel recently launched the Tizen App Challenge, offering more than $4 million in cash prizes for developers to create game with Tizen or port an app to the open source OS. It is inviting developers to submit all manner of games from action titles and RPGs to sports and puzzle titles.

“This contest is generating major awareness of Tizen, while attracting applications from a broad range of developers,” Warner explains. “Industry hack-a-thons, devlabs and Samsung’s first-ever developer conference this October, are also a boost to Tizen development,” Warner explains.

The latest version of the OS, Tizen 2.2, contains several changes in UI, including H/W back key and menu key replacing S/W keys, fine-grained Access Control for API privileges powered by Smack and IDE and live editing/previews for CSS and HTML5 files. It is available to download now at developer.tizen.org.

Getting users to try any new development environment can be challenging, and the process of getting developers to embrace Tizen appear to been a gradual one.

But there are major advantages to prioritising a HTML5 development framework and ecosystem, and Warner sees Tizen as the platform to unlock more choice for the game development community.

He concludes: “At The Linux Foundation we really believe in the power of choice. Simply put, choice leads to competition, competition leads to innovation, and innovation at an industry level benefits the user. We really believe in the Tizen Project, and think that it has the capability to provide something unique to app developers and mobile consumers alike.”

www.tizen.org