For those not familiar with the name Tizen, it’s another free, open source software platform that has been designed for use on smartphones and tablets, plus other consumer electronics such as set-top boxes and televisions.
It’s a part of the Linux Foundation, and has risen from the ashes of MeeGo, the operating system developed by Intel and Nokia, which was discontinued after appearing on the Nokia N9 phone. It also incorporates a Linux platform developed by Samsung.
Tizen is currently being worked on by Samsung and Intel, and the pair want to release the first phones running the OS by summer. Version 1.0, codenamed Larkspur, was released at the end of April, and now we’ve got out first look at the software running on a test device.
A video showing Tizen has been published by thehandheldblog.com, and it has a similar look to the TouchWiz UI found on Samsung’s Android phones, from the pull down notification tray to the arrangement of the app icons.
Watching closely, you can see references to some possible future Tizen phone features, such as NFC, Wi-Fi Direct and a push notification system, plus icons for Facebook, Twitter and Gmail.
Don’t be put off by the phone on which Tizen is seen running, as it’s what’s known as “reference hardware,” meaning it’s only there to show off what’s possible and isn’t being considered for release. The large — possibly 4.3-inch — screen and 1.2Ghz dual-core processor both hint at Tizen appearing on upper-range smartphones though.
The thing is, there’s nothing that makes Tizen look all that exciting. Reports have indicated the HTML5 browser already out-performs the competition, but that’s hardly going to be a big selling point. Samsung already produces phones running Android, Windows Phone and its own Bada OS, so it’s difficult to see where Tizen will fit in, especially given Android’s popularity and availability at all price points.
Then there’s the fact its predecessor, MeeGo, was dropped, Nokia is in the process of stopping support for Symbian and last year saw the death of webOS too. The world’s not short of smartphone operating systems, so Tizen needs to be something special if it wants to be anything other than a novelty.