Samsung recently confirmed that its next-gen wearables, the Galaxy Watch 4 series, will be merging the brand’s Tizen OS platform with Google’s Android-based Wear platform. The news was officially confirmed by Samsung Vice President and head of software development Janghyun Yoon.
The move to Wear might leave some Samsung fans divided. There are also questions on how the move will affect elements like battery life, though Google is promising a lot on this front. Battery life is an area where WearOS watches have shown a poor record, while Tizen has done better.
Regardless, the switch has been officially announced and as we head into a new era of WearOS based Samsung wearables, here’s a look at the history of its popular Tizen OS platform and how it evolved over the years, leading up to products like the Galaxy Watch 3 series.
Samsung Tizen history
Tizen, a Linux-based operating system was developed out of what was left of another Samsung operating system called Bada OS, which many years ago, powered early Samsung smartphones of the Wave series. Tizen was built as a backup to Android, back in its early days.
Tizen OS was open source and could be moulded according to what devices it would run on, including not just phones but also watches and TVs. However, just like Bada OS, Tizen OS too faced problems when it came to third-party app support, something with which Google’s Android at the time was miles ahead.
Developers simply had more incentive to create apps for Android, which had a much wider reach than competitors like Tizen. Samsung eventually made a full switch to Android for its own smartphones with the Galaxy smartphone series.
Meanwhile, Tizen OS was revamped and put into use on Samsung’s first wave of fitness bands and smartwatches. These were usually only compatible with Samsung products but were still very popular.
Tizen OS also powered Samsung cameras
While Tizen mainly focussed on smartphones and smartwatches, it also powered three Samsung cameras. These were the Samsung NX1, NX200 and NX300, which were cameras with detachable lenses that were powered by Tizen OS. However, Samsung didn’t really catch up to popular brands like Canon, Nikon and Sony, eventually closing its camera business in 2017.
Samsung’s first brief stint with Google
Somewhere around this time, Samsung also tried its hand at WearOS for its smartwatches, which at the time was called Android Wear. However, as users complained about common Android Wear problems like poor battery life, Samsung returned to Tizen OS eventually.
Since then, Samsung’s wearable wing had solely focussed on Tizen OS for the Galaxy watch lineup, all the way to last year’s Galaxy Watch 3 series. As the brand’s Tizen-powered watches grew more popular app support on the platform also grew over the years.
Even today, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch series watches are considered the best smartwatches for Android phones, beating even Android’s own WearOS watches with better battery life and lesser bugs. Samsung’s signature rotating bezel that looked cool and also made navigating on the watch much easier and intuitive also played a large part in this.
The way forward
The upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 series will adopt Wear, which is going to be a blend of the best of Tizen and WearOS together. Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch series expected to launch in August this year, and we can expect more leaks or official details to begin pouring in the upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, Samsung will continue to provide current Galaxy Watch smartwatches with three years of software updates from the year of launch. So watches like the Galaxy Watch 3 Series that was launched last year, will get two more years of updates.
We hope features like Tizen’s great battery life and the Samsung rotating bezel make it to the new watches. Samsung will definitely be looking forward to holding on to its best wearable for Android phones crown, amidst new brands making an entry in the segment, reportedly including Google’s own Pixel Watch. If the move works well in terms of functionality, software support, app support and aesthetics, Samsung’s upcoming watches could perhaps be the first real competitor to the Apple Watch series.