Samsung Smart TVs to Run Tizen in 2015
Despite the fact that the Samsung Z smartphone has failed to materialize, Samsung has yet to give up on its homegrown, Android-alternative operating system, Tizen. This week, the electronics giant announced that its line of smart TVs for 2015 would all run Tizen, showing yet another hardware area in which Samsung has no interest in partnering with Google.
According to the announcement, all of Samsung’s smart TVs this year will run a television-optimized version of Tizen. It’ll feature a Smart Hub launcher for “easy navigation and quick access.” Like other smart TV offerings, it’ll pump “tailored content recommendations” to users based whatever else they’ve been watching or searching for. The platform will also allow users to connect other devices via Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth for a “multi-screen experience,” though the announcement says that the Smart TV software will automatically search for Samsung devices. Does that mean that other, non-Samsung devices won’t reap those benefits?
Samsung’s Smart TV platform will also include some pre-loaded apps, including – surprisingly – PlayStation Now, a game streaming service that lets users rent and play PS3 games remotely. It was beta tested on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles during 2014 and was launched towards year’s end. That it’s being baked into Samsung’s Smart TV OS is an interesting development I hadn’t seen coming.
Won Jin Lee, Executive VP for Samsung’s Visual Display Division, had this to say on the announcement:
“Building our Smart Platform around Tizen is a groundbreaking step towards a much more intelligent and integrated system. Tizen not only enriches the entertainment experience for our customers today, but unlocks great potential for the future in home entertainment.”
Excluding set-top devices like Apple TV, the Nexus Player, Amazon Fire TV, or the Roku, smart TVs are now being made running one of at least three different operating systems that seem poised to duke it out for supremacy in your living room this year. Samsung’s Smart TV platform runs Tizen, which has failed to really gain much traction from developers and overall acceptance; it was quickly overshadowed as an interesting wearables platform when Google launched Android Wear this past summer. Likewise, Google launched the Android TV platform that lives in the aforementioned Nexus Player, and will be coming to other smart TV offerings from hardware manufacturers later this year. Meanwhile, LG has smart TV offerings coming up that run webOS, the also-ran operating system from Palm (and later HP) that almost managed to steal Android’s thunder before crumbling into dust.
What’s the upshot here? Basically, if you were planning on buying a smart TV, maybe wait and see which one manages to last the platform wars. While your TV will always be a TV, a smart TV needs to have developer support, and that may be trickier than it seems with three competing operating systems trying to coexist. My money is on Google’s Android TV platform winning the day, if only because of the overall health of Android and the strength of Google – as well as its ability to come on TVs from many manufacturers, rather than just one. However, it’ll be interesting to see what developers do with smart TV platforms as they start to reach customers en masse this year.