When it comes to home screen replacements, there are very few I’ll actually pay any attention to. ADW has always been great, and the continued support the replacement gets keeps it fresh. GO Launcher EX is my favorite home screen replacement. There’s a certain level of polish the GO team adheres to, and it really shows in their launcher. As far as any other replacements go, I’ve most likely tried them, but simply wasn’t impressed. Unfortunately, such is the case with Samsung’s latest attempt at a home screen replacement, “Pure Breeze.”
Coming out of the Samsung San Jose Mobile Lab, Pure Breeze takes an organizational approach to your homescreen. The UI starts out on an app drawer. Just like most app drawers, you’ll find a simple black background with little to no customization available. To the right and left of the app drawer icon (located near the bottom of the screen) are colored squares representing groups. You can drag apps into groups and swipe between them and your app drawer. You can also move apps from the drawer to the bottom left corner of the screen to throw them away or to the top right to put them on the kite.
The kite, as Samsung so lovingly calls it, is your homescreen. It’s essentially a vertically scrollable transparent window that houses widgets and app icons. I only tried the free version of Pure Breeze, so I was limited in the amount of widgets I could add to the kite. It seems, though, that you can add as many widgets as you want to the kite should you pay for the launcher. The kite just continues to grow longer. And that’s all there is to it.
There is an extremely limited set of options and no customization to be found. Because of this, the Pure Breeze experience feels incomplete. It’s lacking innovation, which makes it rather boring. If Samsung was going for a minimal approach, it’s not all that bad. But the effects throughout the launcher seem to say otherwise. It’s like your homescreen is a sheet of widgets piled on top of a sheet of icons. And to make it pretty, there’s a ton of gloss and transparency slathered all over everything. It’s like someone spilled clear-coat nail polish on a slab of frosted glass, then glued a bunch of app icons to it. And to make it organized, everything is color coded. Quite frankly, it just doesn’t look good. The functionality is there, but there’s just so much that needs to be worked on. If Samsung could figure out the direction they want to take with the UI, tone down the gaudy effects and add some actual options to Pure Breeze, there might be something worth paying for. For now, I suggest you save your $1.99.
I will say it is nice to see hardware manufacturers thinking outside the box. Samsung has made headlines lately for placing more focus on their software division. They’ve scooped up Cyanogen Mod’s Steve Kondik, talks of more developer acquisitions are nothing new, and they’re releasing experimental home screen replacements into the Market. I have to give them kudos for trying.
If you’d like to download the free version of Pure Breeze, you can use the Market widget below. If nothing else, it’s worth checking out just to see the kind of things Samsung is experimenting with.