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Article  |  Development

Tizen Developer Conference

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Working on more and more mobile sites has me interested in the continuing trends of mobile development. Lately I started reading about the Tizen software platform. Tizen is part of the Linux Foundation and is described as..

“…an open source, standards-based software platform supported by leading mobile operators, device manufacturers, and silicon suppliers for multiple device categories, including smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, and more.”

What piqued my interest in Tizen was its commitment to HTML5 and standards-based technology. So far, we have seen mobile operating systems that are closed and proprietary and are usually lead by a single company. Tizen is the first OS that is lead by an open source community. It is also interesting in its use of HTML5 with Javascript and CSS3 to create apps. These apps could just as easily run in a web browser as they can on a Tizen device. So I traveled down to San Francisco for the Tizen Developer Conference to learn more about this platform.

The view of San Francisco from the Hyatt

The opening keynote was given by Imad Sousou from Intel and Jong-Deok Choi from Samsung. They let us know that the next point release of the OS, codenamed ‘Magnolia’, will be released later this year. This is a good indication to the community that there is a roadmap in place and that development of the platform is progressing at a quick pace.

They showed off some very impressive demos using the Tizen reference device from Samsung running 3D animations that featured the manipulation of both images and video. They spoke about how HTML apps can be written to interact with the device and showed this off by placing a call from the Tizen device to Imad’s mobile phone. They also talked about how the HTML engine is powerful and responsive enough to produce everything from simple apps to games. We also heard from Dr. Kiyohito Nagata from Docomo and James Pearce from Facebook who spoke highly of the Tizen OS and it’s commitment to standards.

Tizen Developer Conference Stage

Tizen is very much a standards-based platform and that was heavily conveyed throughout the conference. All of the apps are written in HTML5 using CSS3 and Javascript along with Tizen APIs that give the developer access to the device’s functions such as camera, phone, SMS, etc. The Tizen Web UI Framwork is based on the Javascript projects jQuery, jQuery Mobile and Gobalize. For building apps, developers can use technologies like WebStorage and Web SQL Database for storage, web workers and web sockets for communication, and video/audio and 2D canvas for graphics using HTML + JS. In addition, CSS3 can be used for features like columns, transitions, animations and media queries. The Tizen APIs are not trying to take HTML5, fork it and go their own direction. They are there to fill in the gaps where HTML5 lacks, especially when it comes to accessing features of the device it is running on.

Some of the applications demoed during the sessions and the the tech showcase included many games, a movie showtimes app, a weather app and even an in-car entertainment system. Porting of web applications that already use HTML5 was shown to be a rather painless process.

The platform definitely has a lot of potential and really shines in the fact that it is HTML5 and standards-based. I think the challenge for Tizen, going forward, will be to see what devices are ultimately released for it and how successful they are. It is hard to imagine Tizen devices taking on the mobile market leaders of Apple and Google, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. I think a more realistic view of Tizen’s future may be in devices such as televisions, vehicle entertainment systems, medical devices or maybe even household appliances. It will be interesting to see what direction it goes now that developers have their hands on it and are able to start writing apps.

Contiki Mobile running on the Tizen reference device

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