App Converter Connects Tizen and Android

by Matt Klassen on March 3, 2014

As Samsung sits on the fence separating its Android cash cow and its fledgling Tizen operating system, the question for many in the tech world is: how will the Korean tech giant migrate its loyal Android customer base over to its new Tizen OS, assuming, of course, that such a migration is actually in Samsung’s future plans?

The problem for Tizen, at least out of the box, will be a paucity of apps, something that has plagued every up-and-coming mobile OS in recent history. But even with Tizen-powered smartphones still on the horizon at least one software vendor has developed a solution, as last week at the Mobile World Congress Infraware Technology debuted software that can port Android apps to Tizen.

Although both Android and Tizen are open-source Linux-based operating systems that doesn’t mean their native software is compatible. Infraware’s Polaris App Generator has bridged that gap by converting Android applications to Tizen applications, allowing them to operate on Tizen “without additional development or customization.” But is this really the solution to Tizen’s scarcity of native apps, or is Infraware Technology promising something it simply can’t deliver?

If this year’s MWC proved anything to me its that there remains a strong appetite around the world for a third mobile operating system alternative, one that is able to compete with Android and iOS. While there are many wannabes vying for this coveted spot, there really don’t seem to be many serious contenders. But two options have emerged that I think warrant serious consideration, Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Samsung’s Tizen platform.

The problem with Mozilla’s Firefox offering, however, is that it’s not created as a competitor for anyone, created instead to blaze a trail into heretofore untapped global markets. While Tizen is undoubtedly looking to make inroads into similar emerging markets, it remains the one platform with the backing needed to compete against the entrenched incumbents.

As I mentioned, the problem facing all mobile operating systems centers around apps, meaning most consumers choose their mobile operating system because of what applications are available on it: no apps, no customers; no customers, no money; no money, no app development; and the vicious cycle continues.

But the emergence of this app converter from Infraware Technology is able to break that cycle, as it removes the time and financial commitment needed from developers to program native apps for the Tizen platform.

If you’re wondering why no one has ever done this before, well, they have. Porting software between platforms is really nothing new, and the only reason this particular offering is notable is for the fact that there aren’t yet any Tizen phones available, Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst for Gartner, told LinuxInsider.

The reason such app conversion is not more widespread in the mobile world is because company’s like Infraware Technology often promise more than any converter can actually deliver. “Porting is not as clean as some solution providers may lead you to believe,” Nguyen noted. “It’s not a perfect experience, especially as compared with building the app for the platform itself.”

“We’ve danced this dance before,” agreed IDC Research Director Ramon Llamas. “BlackBerry did it, Nokia is doing it now with the Nokia X.”

“If Infraware is going to do it, I have to question how robust is that experience going to be?” he added. “Of the roughly millions of apps available on Android, how many will work seamlessly on Tizen? Will it have a success rate of 100 percent? 90 percent? If not all — or a vast majority — there’s a challenge there.

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