Samsung has been working on its own operating system for a long time now, and it’s finally got a phone on the market to show their hard work off. Ever since Google started laying down the law with Android and asking OEMs to clean up their stuff and provide more timely updates we’ve seen more and more Samsung devices go Tizen. In a nutshell Tizen is another open-source operating system, much as Google’s Android is, and is backed not just by Samsung but a number of other technology partners like Intel and ZTE as well, to name a few. There are dozens of companies working with Samsung on Tizen and supporting it financially, hoping for a new big breakthrough in mobile operating systems and something to challenge both Google and Apple for dominance of the market.
Samsung’s first Tizen phone, the Samsung Z1, didn’t exactly impress when it launched in India just last month for under $100. While it doesn’t take all that much to be impressive for that price point Samsung didn’t even come close in some regards to its Android-powered competitors, and the demand for Samsung’s first Tizen phone has been nothing short of disappointing for the company. What’s so different about Tizen anyway though? We can take a look in screenshots taken by Ars Technica that compare Tizen with Samsung’s own skin of Android TouchWiz, as well as Google’s latest build of Android, version 5.0 Lollipop. The design language differences vary from huge chasms to very minute differences and everything in between depending on which OS we’re talking about.
In the end, it’s very clear that Samsung likes its vision of user interface design and isn’t willing to change up what it’s been doing with TouchWiz for a long time now. First off most of Tizen feels like the TouchWiz of old before Samsung started moving more towards what Google wants with Android and what they don’t want to see any longer. The notification panel for instance, looks nearly identical between TouchWiz and Tizen in the upper third of the screen, but changes drastically below that. Notifications in Tizen are single line only and don’t include any sort of actions that can be performed on them, such as deleting an email that comes through as you can on Android without having to enter the app directly.
Then there’s also the fact that Samsung has stuck with the old, horrible menu button on Tizen whereas Google forced manufacturers to remove it in recent versions of Android. This becomes a problem when you’re in an app, like the email client, and can’t find where the settings are located. Of course they are located inside of the menu that’s hidden, only to be revealed by pressing the menu button, but that’s not exactly good UI design as has been proven over the years since this button was relegated to its rightful place on newer Android phones.
Taking a look at overall style it’s obvious that Samsung has no desire to change their look from what they’ve developed with TouchWiz over the years. Overall Tizen exhibits many of the design trends that have been pushed through on Android for a while now including circular icons and avatars, quick toggles for common actions like WiFi and Bluetooth, swipeable tabs within apps to navigate to different panels of information and even a large action button on the bottom right of many apps. Samsung doesn’t appear to want to change its design in Tizen, and that’s a big worry for anyone likely interested in seeing the OS differentiate itself from the crowd. Check out the gallery below for all the comparison shots.