By now, you’ve probably seen the news about the Tizen-based Gear S smartwatch that was unveiled at IFA. Aside from having a massive curved screen (for a watch, at least), it also has GSM connectivity, meaning it can truly function as a standalone device.
If you’re an app developer and that didn’t get you excited, you should probably get someone to check your pulse (or I suppose you can have the Gear do it for you). We’ve talked in the tech industry about convergence devices for years, and this is exactly the sort of device we mean. And yes, various things have been getting cellular connectivity for years, but aside from phones, it’s really only a recent trend that companies are legitimately working to build third party app ecosystems around these devices.
For this reason I find a device like the Gear S really exciting, and not just because it’s running Tizen. When it comes down to it, the really interesting apps often come from individual developers who recognize a unique combination of hardware and sensors, and who then write apps to do cool things with them. This device definitely has that potential.
Speaking of, a new version of the Tizen SDK for Wearable is out, and yes, you can use it to develop apps for the Gear S.
So what’s new?
Well, as with the Gear 2, apps are developed using the Tizen web framework. No major change there.
However, some nifty things have been added in the Web Device API. For example, GPS support that can return data on latitude, longitude, and speed. In addition, there’s support for gesture recognition. So you could, for example, write an app that suggests alternate navigation routes when it detects that you’re shaking your fist in rage while stuck in traffic.
To be filed under “I can write cool stuff using this, too,” is the Sensor API, which provides apps access to light, magnetic, pressure, proximity, and UV sensors.
As you probably expect, support has been added for the new functionality of the Gear S in the Web Device API. Application controls have been added to allow you to write apps that dial, call, and view, listen, or share media. Of course, these only work on the Gear S for the time being because it’s the only hardware with a cellular modem.
You’ll also find that it’s easy to migrate Gear 2 applications to the Gear S. The biggest change is in the screen size, from 320×320 to 360×480, but we want migrating apps to be easy.
Some new features have been added to the Webkit implementation as well, such as geolocation and network access for XKH and web sockets.
What about the IDE?
Yes, that got some love too. There’s now a device viewer that allows you to easily view your application layout with various screen sizes and aspect ratios. There’s also a new 360×480 display resolution in the emulator.
Also new with the Gear S, Android Rich Notifications can be sent to either the emulator or a wearable device without developing a specific wearable application. Actions and their associated callbacks in the Android Rich Notification SDK will work with the Tizen Emulator and wearable devices.
So, to sum it all up, there are some neat new features to accompany this cool new device. App developers, start your engines, and get the SDK here: https://developer.tizen.org/downloads/tizen-sdk#wearable