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Samsung brings Tizen to India: Does it stand a chance against Google?

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The drop-down menu in the Z1 smartphone

After a string of rumours and amidst much fanfare, Samsung finally launched its first Tizen phone in India dubbed Z1. This time around, it’s the software that’s being talked about instead of the specs or design. And, why not? With Tizen, Samsung is trying to take on its long-time partner Google.

Tizen joins the list of alternate OSes, like Ubuntu, Firefox and so on, that are looking to eat into Android’s market share. It is too early to say whether Tizen will give Android run for its money or Android has already killed Tizen. However, let’s take a quick look at how the Tizen OS stacks up against Android, at least on paper.

Open source

Firstly, just like the Android mobile OS, Tizen is also a Linux-based open source operating system. Based on the Linux kernel and WebKit runtime, it allows phone makers to obtain the source code and tinker with the device’s software. So, manufacturers can customize the OS, similar to what we saw Samsung do to Android with the Touch Wiz. However, its quite unlikely that other phone makers will adopt Tizen. The Tizen project is believed to be a merge of Nokia-abandoned Meego and Intel’s Limo projects. However, some others say that it is just Meego re-branded as Tizen.

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Android boss Sundar Pichai at Google I/O (Image: Reuters)

Multi-platform

The Tizen mobile OS is lighter than Android – the reason why Android was ditched for Tizen – and can run on low-end phones, a market Samsung is now trying to woo. In fact, Google had to craft a separate Android Wear OS for wearables. The Tizen isn’t just for phones, and the company has started employing it in multiple products like wearables and TVs. However, with Android Lollipop, Google has also decided to bring its OS to multiple platforms.

User interface and features

Tizen hasn’t brought something new to the table and simply reproduces the same look and feel Samsung was offering. Now, this isn’t something bad because consumers won’t see something drastically new. However, Tizen will run on the company’s low-end phones and not the premium line, or so it is believed. So, we wonder if entry-level phone users would really bother about what OS the device is running unless it has all basic features like camera and supports apps.

“However, from an offering side of things, Samsung has a challenge ahead of them. To get the same reach as Google, Tizen will need to offer or provide alternatives for all the Google services that have become an integrated part of Android. Otherwise, they will have a barrier that will inhibit consumers from adapting to this latest operating system,” says an Androidpit report.

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Settings on the Samsung Z1 smartphone

However, Tizen looks just like Android. In fact, the Tizen UI looks almost similar to the TouchWiz UI layer seen in the most recent phones with slight changes here and there.

Firstly, you will notice a notifications tray, just like the one in Android. However, the App Launcher on Tizen looks slightly different. One will have to slide upwards from the bottom. The Z1 shows eight fixed app shortcuts along with 4 x 3 launcher screens. This the Favourites app feature wherein you can assign the space to 8 most-used apps.

It should be noted that Google has improved notifications further with its latest installment of the Android OS. You can now view and respond to messages directly from your lock screen, or hide notifications for sensitive content. Turning on Priority mode through your device’s volume button will allow only certain people and notifications get through.

In order to maintain a consistent design experience across all Android devices, Lollipop uses the Material Design interface across devices it runs on. With Material Design, elements can dynamically shrink and expand, there’s more white space between elements, and gives a 3D appearance overall.

Android Lollipop is far more refined than Tizen, at least for phones. Lollipop makes it easier to support features like burst mode and fine settings tuning. You’ll be able to capture full resolution frames around 30fps, and shoot in raw formats like YUV and Bayer RAW.There’s a new battery-saver feature that extends the life of your device by up to 90 minutes—helpful if you’re far from a power outlet.

Apps

Creating a mobile OS means creating a complete ecosystem, especially a plethora of apps. This is one reason why Samsung had to delay the launch of Tizen in most regions. There has been a lack of support from developers and so the company has started building its own apps for Tizen now with the Tizen app store.

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Facebook app on the Samsung Z1 smartphone

You won’t miss the popular Google services as the integrated Android app support will ensure that Android apps run on the device. While Facebook, WhatsApp, Google haven’t created any apps for this OS, Samsung has created its own apps for these too, which are available in Tizen OS and thus users can access them.
However, the lack of support for popular apps and games could play the biggest hindrance for Tizen, especially when competing with Google whose app store has grown by manifolds over the years.

Miscellaneous 

The Z1 comes with Club Samsung which has over 270,000 songs and 80 live stream channels. It has also partnered with Hungama to let users stream and download Bollywood music free for three months, after which there is a paid subscription. Given that this is a low-budget phone, we’re not sure if too many people will sign up for paid subscriptions and content.

Android phones are bundled with several such services, depending upon the OEMs and their marketing teams.

Bottom line

Over the years, Google has honed the skills of its Android mobile OS. The new Android L comes with a plethora of features like pick up from where you left just like Apple’s Continuity, refined camera options and so on. Tizen comes across as a newbie with lack of refined features and mediocre apps store. It’s too early to say whether its no competition to Android or vice versa, but for now it definitely has a long way to go.

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