The Tizen phone failed to make an appearance at Samsung’s Developer Conference this week, with some observers suggesting the mobile Linux platform could be delayed yet again to early 2014. Meanwhile, in a move to lure more developers, Tizen.org released an in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) preview release based on the upcoming Tizen 3.0, extended its $4 million Tizen App Challenge to Dec. 8, and announced more third-party tools support.
The appearance of the first Tizen developer’s tablet from Systena in Japan last week suggested that a Tizen phone announcement may be imminent. Yet at Samsung’s first Samsung Developers Conference in San Francisco, Samsung barely mentioned Tizen. A phone unveiling may well occur at the Tizen Developer Summit Korea 2013, to be held Nov. 11-12, 2013 in Seoul (early bird registration ends Oct. 31). However, a CNET report suggests the phone debut could be delayed until the January CES show in Las Vegas (see farther below).
Systena Tablet: first Tizen developer’s tablet
(click image to enlarge)
Although Samsung was mum on Tizen — only one session was devoted to the platform — Tizen’s official host, the Linux Foundation (LF), had several Tizen tidbits at the ready. The LF announced an extension to the Tizen App Challenge, unveiled a growing selection of apps for Tizen developers, and released a new IVI preview stack based on Tizen.
Tizen App Challenge extended
Back in July, Tizen showed off its big-money corporate backing when the Linux Foundation announced an app challenge with a total of $4.04 million to be split up among 50 developers of Tizen apps in nine categories. By comparison the prizes for the Ubuntu for Phones app challenge announced by Canonical in August consisted of three Nexus 4 phones.
The earlier Nov. 1 deadline has now been pushed to Dec. 8, and judging will occur Dec. 9 through Jan. 17, 2014, says the LF. An award ceremony announcing the winners will be held in 2014. Applicants can find out more at the Tizen App Challenge web-page.
The extension was due to a “recent boost in submissions,” says the LF. This in turn was said to stem from “new support and contributions from several mobile platform and software development providers.” The new Tizen development applications include:
- Appbackr — service that scores apps based on quality, using Xchange API, and provides “valuable incentives”
- Cocos2d-x — HTML5-compliant 2D engine for game development
- GameSalad — Mobile game creation platform used by more than 700,000 developers for 200,000 games
- Project Anarchy by Havok — Free 3D game engine for mobile devices with its own app challenge, with prizes up to $150,000
- Marmalade SDK — Cross-platform C++ mobile SDK with game focus, plus cash incentives and other rewards when porting games to Tizen
- Scirra Construct 2 – A “Photoshop for games” with “superb” visual effects
- YoYoGames GameMaker: Studio — delivers game prototypes “in hours”
In addition to these third-party products, would-be developers can download the Tizen Software Development Kit 2.2, says the LF. A full list of Tizen-ready development apps may be found here.
Tizen 3.0 IVI preview released
While the world waits for Samsung to deliver the first Tizen smartphone, the LF-hosted Tizen.org, which counts Intel as its other major backer, plans to load the OS onto tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), and smart TVs. Systena is now offering the first tablet, at least for developers, and now there’s some more action on the IVI front.
According to the LF, C++ developers “now have access to a single Qt Creator-based SDK that works with the Tizen IVI solution.” In addition, Tizen.org has released Tizen 3.0-M2-Aug for IVI, a preview SDK based on Tizen 3.0 and Linux 3.11. (Tizen 3.0 will be formally released early next year.)
The new IVI release offers an upgraded Wayland windowing environment and an enhanced Tizen Web RunTime (WRT). New middleware includes PIM manager (SyncEvolution), a speech-recognition framework, and an open source version of Ford’s AppLink mobile API, called SmartDeviceLink.
While Tizen has borrowed relatively little from the MeeGo project from which it was born, it did bring along some of the fairly advanced MeeGo IVI technology which had been adopted by the open source IVI standards organization, the GENIVI Alliance. GENIVI’s open source baseline code, which does not in itself indicate compliance, moves upstream to Tizen, as well as to MeeGo, Ubuntu, and Yocto. In addition, Tizen is the only current reference platform for the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux working group.
Tizen delayed again?
Back in early July, a Samsung executive confirmed to a CNET reporter that the first Tizen phones would be delayed by several months to the fall of 2013. Now a new CNET report suggests the delay could move into the first quarter of 2014. At the Samsung Developers Conference, a Samsung partner told the publication that the first phone would not be released until the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10. Even that date was not set in stone, said the source.
There were no Tizen announcements from Samsung at the conference, and the lone Tizen breakout session was led by Intel executives instead of Samsung, and did not focus much on smartphones, according to a report from ComputerWorld. Despite Samsung’s general silence, said CNET, Tizen talk was heard in various panels and hallway conversations. However, developers were said to show more interest in Android development, Samsung’s Knox security technology, and a new SDK for its Linux-based Smart TV platform.
According to CNET, the Tizen delays are due primarily to Samsung’s concern that there won’t be enough apps available. Hence, the extension to the $4 million app challenge, the push for more third party tools, and an increase of Tizen hackathons. CNET noted the many additional cash awards provided by some of the Tizen tools vendors, as detailed in the bulleted list above. The mobile developers who aren’t already devoted to Android or iOS are already splintered among other competing mobile Linux projects. These include the Android-based CyanogenMod, Firefox OS, Jolla’s Sailfish, and Ubuntu’s Ubuntu for Phones, which now appears to be postponed until next fall.
Over the last year, Samsung has increasingly pushed HTML5 development over its alternative native app environment, which is based largely on earlier LiMo code. Like Mozilla with its Firefox OS, Samsung is hoping it will be easier to port and build HTML5 apps than to depend on native app development.
Both CNET and ComputerWorld interviewed Abe Elias, chief technical officer at Sencha, a web app development firm that according to CNET is developing a “world class and second-to-none” browser for Tizen. In the ComputerWorld story, Elias noted that one reason developers should support HTML5 is to avoid the 30 percent fee charged by app stores to host a native app.
Another reason for the delay may be that Samsung wants to keep milking the Android cow before risking a bifurcated strategy with Tizen that, among other potential ramifications, could lead to a war with Google. According to an Oct. 29 smartphone report from IDC, Samsung shipped more smartphones worldwide in the third quarter than the next four vendors combined, and its market share rose to 31.4 percent. With Samsung backing away from Windows Phone and Bada, the vast majority of those phones were based on Android.
It’s also possible that Samsung is not yet clear on its Tizen strategy. The company has said it will release a high-end Tizen phone, and one rumor has Samsung offering Tizen as an alternative OS on its upcoming Android-based Galaxy S 5. Yet, according to CNET, the first Tizen phones won’t appear in the U.S., and “many developers believe the software will be geared at cheap, mass-market smartphones.”
If indeed Samsung plans to go low, using Tizen as a replacement for its fading Bada feature-phone platform in the emerging nation market, then it could still end up competing with its own low-cost Android smartphone models. Samsung could also find itself going head to head with sub-$100 Firefox OS phones.