Tizen Developer Spotlight: How Two Hackers Are Building The Future of Mobile Linux   

 The Tizen App Challenge’s $4+ million is by far the big kahuna right now, but plenty of smaller prize opportunities are available to mobile developers. Designed to jumpstart the Tizen ecosystem, a number of hack-a-thons with jackpots are cropping up across the country. Dedicated Tizen developers Jakob Perry and Emilie Nouveau recently won a runner-up reward for their hybrid in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) app called Boomzbox. Jakob’s daytime hours are spent at Acquia as a senior software engineer, while Emilie works at MongoDB as a web developer. 

Our Q&A with Jakob and Emilie talks about their winning Tizen app, the hack’s vibe and what they find most exciting about Tizen.

What did you think of the hack-a-thon? Can you describe the atmosphere and audience?

Jakob: It was a great event, and it was really fun to help move Tizen forward. I’ve done lots of hack-a-thons for Drupal, but this was my first Tizen one. The audience was a mix of mobile app and HTML5 developers, with not as many people building hybrid applications. 

Emilie: There were about 30 people there. It was a fun, relaxed environment and everyone was very excited about what they were working on. It was a very collaborative environment with people more than happy to help each other out. People weren’t just heads down in their own problems. There was a female designer there, but I was the only female developer. It would be great to see more women at future events.

Can you give an overview of your winning app? 

Jakob: For me, creating a better IVI experience is my main hobby and one I’ve been involved with for awhile.  At the event, we were the only one doing a hybrid IVI application. Our app Boomzbox is both an experiment and a concept to see if Drupal can be used as a content manager behind a car’s IVI system. Can we create a Drupal full-car experience, with a AM/FM radio system connected to a Linux box with a front-end visual interface? With Tizen more mature now, I think we can. Emilie is working on the custom HTML5 front-end, which was one of the main projects for us at the hack-a-thon.

What are some of the main benefits of developing on the Tizen platform?

Emilie: Tizen is a huge boost for developers working with HTML5 apps. The control you have over the interface is really a great feature of Tizen. 

Jakob: We can create our own Tizen packages and take our own language and interface with Tizen very easily, which is why we didn’t use Android in the first place. The ability to pick and choose what you want in an IVI system and just plug in some off-the-shelf components is awesome for car enthusiasts and developers.

Thoughts on the Tizen App Challenge. 

Jakob: The Tizen App Challenge is a really cool idea, and I believe it’s a great way to start building the Tizen ecosystem up. It was exciting to see developers at the event who just started working on Tizen have a full-fledged bus schedule system by the afternoon, while and another person had a new game. Being able to develop within less than 24 hours is pretty cool. That’s a huge selling point for getting more apps out in the market. I hope to see other manufacturers become more interested in Tizen. 

In your opinions, what’s most exciting about Tizen?

Jakob: I think it will be great to have another successful OS mobile platform in the market.  The most exciting part with Tizen is the ability to unify the vehicle and mobile experience in one OS based on an easy-to-use Linux distro. 

What’s next for Boomzbox?

Jakob: We are really excited for the 3.0 release of the Tizen IVI system, which we are waiting for before finishing our app. We’re hoping Tizen will have a presence at LinuxFest Northwest 2014 next April since it attracts such a big grass-roots developer audience and would be a great place to help with adoption. Hopefully we’ll also do a presentation of IVI support on the Tizen platform at the event. 

The following video link showcases Boombzbox and other winning Tizen apps from the Portland Devlab and Hack: http://www.tizenexperts.com/2013/08/bemyapp-tizen-devlab-hackathon-portland/ If you want in on the hack action and prize money, check out Tizen Devlab and Hack New York , Oct. 11-12; Vancouver Tizen Devlab & Hack, Nov. 8-9; or Seattle Tizen Devlab & Hack, Dec. 6-7, all sponsored by Intel and ByMyApp.