Days after releasing version 2.1 of the Linux-based Tizen mobile operating system, Samsung confirmed an upcoming GT-I8805 Tizen smartphone, and Intel demonstrated a laptop running Tizen 3.0 in a GNOME shell. Other developments around this week’s Tizen Developers Conference include a Tizen App Challenge and 2013 phone launch promises from NTT DoCoMo and Orange.
On May 23, the second day of a three-day Tizen Developers Conference in San Francisco, TechTastic reported confirmation of a rumored debut Tizen smartphone called the GT-I8805 in Samsung’s UAPROF systems. The GT-I8805 (“Redwood”) is listed as running Tizen 2.1 on an ARM Cortex-A9 SoC and offering 1280 x 720 resolution and LTE support.
Leaked photos of a new Samsung phone running Tizen 2.1
(Source: Tizen Greek community)
Today, the Tizen Greek Community followed up with leaked photos of a GT-I8800 running Tizen 2.1 with similar 720p resolution. According to this GSMArena analysis of the leak, the phone appears to borrow from the latest TouchWiz 5.0 UI layer found on Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy S4, with features like S-Voice, S-Beam, and WiFi Direct.
So far, the rumored formal unveiling of the phone by Samsung on the last day of the Tizen show has yet to occur. According to a Register story today, however, Samsung VP Jong-Deok Choi told the conference audience that the first Tizen phone would appear “very soon.” Meanwhile, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo and European carrier Orange were said to have announced that they would ship Tizen phones in the third quarter.
The mid-range specs suggest that despite a Samsung exec claiming earlier this year that a high-end Tizen phone would ship this fall, Samsung may be going after a more budget-conscious consumer. At least initially, as long as Samsung’s Galaxy phones continue to dominate Android sales, the Linux Foundation-sponsored Tizen would appear to fill the role of Samsung’s now fading Bada low-end smartphone platform, which it is folding into Tizen.
Other open source mobile Linux OS contenders, including Mozilla’s Firefox OS Jolla’s Sailfish OS, and Ubuntu Touch are similarly targeting the low-end, trying to find a niche where Android has yet to become dominant. This is especially true of Firefox OS, which is aiming at first-time emerging market customers. (See farther below for more Tizen background.)
Tizen for laptops?
Perhaps the most intriguing development to come out of the conference was a demo by Intel — one of the major backers of Tizen along with Samsung — of early Tizen 3.0 code running on a Core i7 based Ultrabook laptop. As explained by The H, however, this may be more of a tease of future possibilities than an indication of an imminent laptop push for Tizen.
In the demo, Tizen ran in a “Tizen Shell” based on the GNOME 3 shell. The demo shows the Ultrabook running HTML5-based Tizen Web Apps, as well as GNOME standbys like Shotwell, Rhythmbox, and Steam.
Although Tizen development has so far focused on smartphones, with some activity proceeding on in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) computers, Tizen.org has said that form-factors including tablets, smart TVs and netbooks are also possibilities. The Core i7 demo suggests that Intel may be thinking of a more robust laptop platform than Atom-based netbooks, perhaps as a possible competitor with Google’s Chrome OS.
Tizen App Challenge and Tizen Store
Also this week, Tizen.org announced a Tizen App Challenge, featuring over $4 million in cash prizes. Some 54 prizes will be awarded, with a $200,000 prize and multiple $100,000 and $40,000 prizes to be given out in each of three game categories, and a $120,000 prize and multiple $60,000 and $30,000 prizes awarded for each of six other app categories. A similar contest helped attract developers to Android back in 2009. Registration begins June 3.
Tizen.org also said it will soon open its app store for developers with Tizen developer phones. The Tizen Store currently requires a login.
Tizen 2.1 released
On May 17, Tizen.org released its Tizen 2.1 (“Nectarine”) source code and SDK, which it bills as being a “minor release.” Yet it’s major, in that has been deemed suitably mature to appear in the first Tizen smartphones this fall. In addition to bug fixes and performance improvements, the release adds Content Security Policy 1.0 support and the ability to embed Web DynamicBox content in “viewer-like” applications.
Tizen 2.1 highlights are said to include:
- Enhanced Web framework with HTML5/W3C API support, featuring Content Security Policy 1.0 and Navigation Timing
- Web DynamicBox runtime framework supporting Web DynamicBox embedded in viewer-like applications
- Native IDE with project wizard, WYSIWYG, unit test tool, and dynamic analyzer
Qt for Tizen 1.0 Alpha released
Although it’s not formally part of the Tizen release, on May 20 the Qt for Tizen community project released the first alpha version of Qt for Tizen 1.0. The release of the Qt cross-platform development framework is based on Qt 5.1 beta, and works with the Tizen Emulator.
Although Tizen emerged from the MeeGo Linux project, once it became clear that Tizen was shucking much of the MeeGo code, including Qt, many MeeGo developers refused to switch over to the new platform. A fair amount of them moved to Jolla and its MeeGo-based Sailfish OS. Others, however, are sticking it out and doggedly working to bring Qt back to the Tizen table.
Tizen spun off from the now defunct MeeGo project, but it adopted far less MeeGo code than Jolla’s Sailfish OS. Hosted by The Linux Foundation and sponsored by former MeeGo stalwart Intel and leading Android vendor Samsung, Tizen was announced in Sept. 2011 and debuted as version 1.0 in April 2012.
Tizen 2.0 arrived in February of this year along with an updated Samsung developer phone. Following the release, Samsung confirmed it would decommission its earlier Bada mobile OS and fold much of it into Tizen, and promised to release at least one Tizen phone this year. Tizen Association member Huawei has also said it will build a Tizen phone, and the rumor mill has suggested devices may be coming from HTC, Asus, and Acer.
Instead of using Qt, Tizen depends on the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), X11 for graphics, and widget components from the jQuery Mobile app framework. The EFL libraries, as well as device APIs from the Web Application Community (WAC) standard, came to Tizen by way of the Samsung Linux Platform, a version of the now largely defunct LiMo (Linux Mobile) spec. Indeed, Tizen is based more on LiMo and Samsung TouchWiz UI code than it is on MeeGo, which appears mostly in the form of potential device-specific profiles that mimic MeeGo’s various UI layers.
Tizen is also supported by the same carriers that ran the LiMo Foundation, including NTT Docomo, Orange, Vodafone, SK Telecom, NEC, and Panasonic. Additional carrier supporters include Telefonica and Sprint, which have also promised Firefox OS phones.