Seeing an already-crowded market and saying “me too,” Samsung introduced an Android launcher and homescreen replacement called Terrain on Tuesday. The app will be available for all Android phones — even those from competitors — on Google Play later today.
Terrain is the debut app out from Samsung’s Palo Alto-based Accelerator team. At first look, it seems significantly different from the stock Android launcher, eschewing the traditional grid of icons for a Google Now-inspired card-based interface. However, unlike Google Now, the cards appear to be dumb widgets, lacking the kind of contextual sixth-sense that distinguishes Google’s product.
There are card-based shortcuts for the phone’s most used functions, such as weather information, favorite contacts, and social media feeds. Eventually, Terrain will have a web-standard based SDK, so third-party developers can build their own custom cards. Swiping from right to left brings up an alphabetically arranged list of apps, replacing the grid Android uses by default.
While Terrain is joining a crowded field of Android homescreen launchers — a competitive market which has chewed up even giants like Facebook — Terrain is notable as an effort to further distinguish Samsung’s user interface across devices. With Samsung launching its first handset running its homegrown Tizen operating system earlier this month, it’s possible that Terrain or the lessons learned from its interface could be integrated into Samsung’s future non-Android devices.