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Creating Apps for Samsung Gear with Tizen SDK for Wearable

by Abel Avram on Mar 18, 2014 |

After a first generation of wearable devices built with Android, Samsung decided to bring to market a second wave of devices based on Tizen, the open source mobile operating system developed along with Intel. Now, they have released an SDK for creating applications for such devices.

There are two types of Samsung Gear apps: Standalone, which run only on the device and have no network connectivity, and Host-Gear ones which have two components: an Android application that runs on a smartphone or tablet and its Tizen counterpart widget that runs on the Gear device. Communication between the two components is done via Bluetooth. The development of the widget is done in the Tizen Wearable IDE with the help of an emulator, and the resulting app is packaged either separately or together with the corresponding host app and submitted to the Samsung Apps Seller Office, being subject to review before being accepted in their store. As it is the case with App Store or Google Play, Samsung takes 30% of the income resulting from selling Gear apps. Such applications are accessed and downloaded by users using the Gear Manager installed on their host smartphone.

The widgets are displayed on the device in Tizen’s Web Runtime, which is a chrome-less browser window for HTML5 applications. The Tizen SDK for Wearable runs on Ubuntu 32,64-bit, Windows 7 32,64-bit, and Max OS X.

The Tizen project started back in September 2011, and this year Samsung showed the first smartphone based on this operating system at MWC 2014. Ars Technica reviewed this device calling it “An impressively capable Android clone”, noting its rich capabilities and good performance, almost on par with Android’s. Samsung seems to be testing the waters to see where Tizen will eventually go. While Samsung could possibly end up with a mobile OS that competes on equal footing with Android, the main problem remains: applications. Will developers start building apps for a nascent market?

Samsung makes things even a bit more difficult for building Gear apps. Developers need to develop both in Android and Tizen, need to learn two separate APIs, and deal with two SDKs. All of that while Google SDK for wearable devices is just around the corner, and will probably be announced this week, according to CNET.

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Looks promising by Gunnar Forsgren

Initially Samsung have released a limited functionality SDK that allows developing HTML apps. I tried it out briefly and it should be a decent start. Looking at their overall SDK info it seems there will be support both for developing phone side Android and Tizen native wearable apps and not just HTML ones. Probably this will be better explained and supported in due time. I will continue to explore the SDK further and will be looking out for the arrival of updates.

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