The first smartphones running the Tizen operating system are expected to ship later this year. Tizen is a Linux-based operating system designed with an emphasis on mobile devices including phones, tablets, and notebooks — and it’s backed by Intel, Samsung, and the Linux Foundation.
While we’ve already had a look at what Tizen looks like, Intel appears to be working on a design that will spruce things up a bit. Ars Technica received a few videos showing off an early build of something called “Obsidian,” which is a custom user interface for smartphones running Tizen, and possibly Android as well.
For the most part, Obsidian looks a lot like other touchscreen-friendly mobile operating systems. You have a home screen with a series if icons that let you launch apps, a lock screen that lets you swipe to unlock the device, a a dock at the bottom of the screen with buttons that let you open the phone, messages, or people app from any screen.
But Obsidian has a few unusual touches. For instances, when there’s a notification associated with an app (say a missed call), the square icon on your home screen will rotate 45 degrees to become a diamond so you can tell at a glance that you have a missed call.
There’s also a function that lets you open and interact with apps using just the bottom portion of your screen. Say you want to set an alarm, for instance. Instead of switching to a full-screen alarm app, you can just open the app in the bottom of the display, set your alarm, and minimize. If you want to go to the full-screen view you can do that too.
It’s not clear at the moment if third party developers will have to write apps designed specifically for obsidian in order to take advantage of these features, or if most Tizen-compatible apps will work. If it’s the former, then I expects Intel will eventually be pushing Obsidian to most handset makers interested in using Tizen to avoid any fragmentation issues, where apps written for one Tizen phone won’t work on another device.
But part of the appeal of Tizen is that it’s designed to be an open platform that allows device makers and wireless carriers to customize devices as they see fit.