Samsung's Accelerator division has just spawned a new Android launcher that aims to help you see and find everything on your phone. Called Terrain, it resembles a stock Android home screen at first glance, but from there you can launch the three main features. The first is the Sidebar which brings up your content in familiar card form with a swipe from the left, letting you glance your top Spotify songs, Facebook news feed, Instagram pictures, Reddit threads and more. You can then tap each card for a deeper dive. The Phone Search option checks all your apps and contacts and also searches the web, Google Maps, Play or Yelp, to name a few. Finally, there's the alphabetically organized All Apps drawer to see your programs at a glance. So how well does it work? Read on for more.
Terrain Android launcher press gallerySee all photos
Terrain Android Launcher hands-on gallerySee all photos
I've played with a lot of launchers, including Nova and Aviate, and Terrain seems quite robust for a first release. It was fairly simple to add and edit content from the sidebar, helped along by the initial launch suggestions. After a little time, I had a sidebar showing Facebook feeds, favorite contacts, a calendar, Spotify tracks, my Instagram feed and for lulz, the xkcd cartoon, all organized how I wanted. There are 60 content cards in total from categories like utilities, local (weather and traffic), social and news. Searching contacts was more convenient than using Samsung's stock contact app and let me dial or send a text message without fussing. It was also arguably quicker to search less-used apps that weren't on my home page, like Vivino. Finally, the app seemed just as fluid as my go-to launcher, Nova.
Though reasonably glitch-free, it was occasionally a bit slow to find feeds like technology (which include feeds from Engadget, Re/Code, CNET and the Verge). In addition, it was missing a few key social apps like Vine and requires you to download separate apps to pull feeds from Instagram and Spotify -- a bit of a kludge. But it seemed stable on my last-gen Galaxy Note II with KitKat and came with enough news, social and entertainment apps to be useful right away -- and the folks behind it said that more cards and content are rolling out soon. If you feel like giving it a try yourself, check Terrain's home page or download it from Play.