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.

Intel Obsidian UI

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.

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4 replies on “Leak: Intel’s Obsidian UI for Tizen smartphones”

  1. Do we really need another smartphone OS? IOS, Android, BB10, Windows8, FirefoxOS, Ubuntu, Symbian, etc. I can’t see how this helps the market. I am all for choices but how many phone OSes is too many?

    1. While competition is always good, I have to wonder the exact same thing.

      What is the primary advantage of running this new OS over a more established and mature one?

      1. if you’re one of the companies backing the new OS, you don’t have to pay royalty fees for non open bundled apps, certifications, sellling the OS on your hardware and so on, and maybe even get them from device manufacturers.

        Now if you want to know what the primary advantage is for THE CONSUMER….. not a damn thing if devices aren’t WAY cheaper than the established competition

    2. One potential benefit of the proliferation of OSes is that more services will be geared toward HTML5 instead of maintaining multiple native apps.

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