Samsung’s new – and first ever – smartphone to run on its own Tizen OS platform, the Samsung Z, was just launched last week ahead of its full unveiling at the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco. Now that the conference is over, some hands on videos have cropped up to demonstrate the UI of Tizen 2.2.1 on the Z. So how does it really look like? Hint: it’s not that far off from Android.
Essentially, the Samsung Z looks very much like the company’s TouchWiz UI on its Galaxy range of smartphones. As we mentioned back when the Galaxy S5 was launched, Samsung has been slowly introducing a new icon set on TouchWiz (which can be seen in menus such as Settings) which hinted at some sort of synergy between TouchWiz and the new Tizen UI. It has proven to be true, and despite the difference in platform, the familiarity in interfaces means that those who are used to Android will have no problems settling in to Tizen.
Being a Tizen device, naturally the Samsung Z will not have any kind of Google apps integration, nor will it have the Google Play Store. To alleviate this, Samsung has already established its Tizen App Store – and most likely a collaboration with “the Russian Google”, Yandex. Yandex is Russia’s search engine of choice, but it also has its own Android app store, launcher, and essentially everything an Android fork would need to, well, feel like an Android device. Based on the hands on videos, it is obvious that some kind of Yandex collaboration is present, where the default search engine is powered by Yandex. A Yandex folder is also clearly visible in one of the videos, showing the Yandex Maps and Navigation apps; at this point it becomes unsurprising too that the Samsung Z will launch exclusively in Russia first.
On top of that, Samsung has also added in plenty of its S Apps onto the Samsung Z. There’s S Health (which also features the heart rate monitor), S Voice, S Translator, Samsung Link, and several others. The Z also has a fingerprint sensor embedded at the homescreen too, in addition to an IR blaster. And, since the Gear 2 (and recently the Galaxy Gear) runs on Tizen, there’s also a Gear Manager app to connect the smartwatches with the Samsung Z.
A prototype device running on a test version of Tizen, showing off a TouchWiz-like interface at MWC 2014
In its press release, Samsung says the Z is the “perfect choice for consumers who want a differentiated user experience”. But, from what can be seen so far, the Samsung Z is an Android Samsung device that isn’t running on Android. It will be quite a challenge for Samsung to sell this to its current userbase, given that there isn’t much to actually differentiate the Z from its other offerings.