Good old HTC, I swear, if they didn’t manufacture phones, they sure could start a software company. They love to add their own custom software to their devices and because of Android’s openness, their Android devices are pretty customized indeed.
This latest iteration of their custom user interface for Android, called Sense, is really starting to push it. They’ve customized almost everything there is to customize, the homescreen, the framework, widgets, the stock apps, and more.
So let’s delve into the changes they’ve made and see if we like them.
- Pull ring to center of screen to unlock instead of swiping
- Customizable shortcuts at the bottom of the lockscreen to get to certain apps quickly.
Launcher/ Notification Bar
- New bottom bar of launcher with shortcuts to all apps on the left, the phone in the center, and personalization options to the right.
- Notification bar has notifications listed as normal plus a tab for quick settings, showing all of your commonly used settings like Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, etc.
- Above the notifications a small section is designated to the latest apps you’ve opened.
- FM Radio
- Friend Stream
- My Shelf
- Photo Album
- Photo Frame
- Photo Grid
- Sync All
- Tips for Home
- Scenes allow you to setup your homescreen and wallpaper in a certain way with widgets etc. then save it as a scene. You can then jump between different scenes to get to different configurations quickly (i.e. one for while you are at work, one for traveling, one for social networking, etc.)
- Skins are basically themes that allow you to change the notification colors and highlight colors for all the framework through out the OS.
- Sound sets are sets of sounds (oddly enough) that you can create yourself and save. It’s a quick way to change all of your notifications and ringtones in one shot.
Stock App Replacements
- Phone – Smart dialing was added which is great (ability to start typing in a name or number in the dialer and it will automatically find the person associated with it instead of having to search through your phonebook).
- Contacts – Using the included Facebook for HTC Sense integration you can sync your Facebook contacts to your address book and automatically link contacts of the same name to their Facebook profiles. Bringing in their statuses, Facebook albums, and profile pictures. The contacts app also can slide over within a contact to see all the latest ways you’ve communicated with them via text, email, Facebook/Twitter, and call history.
- Calendar – Calendar is just a bit more robust than the native Android calendar app. Includes weather for that day, shows more events in the view and shows meeting invitations as well.
- Camera – Adds the ability to tap to focus, a bunch of fun effects, and options like Face detection, auto-enhance, and turn on and off the shutter sound.
- Clock – Adds the weather, world clock mode, timer, and stopwatch.
- Music – Adds a different skin to the original player as well as access to their HTC Listen store to download new music and the ability to send the music to another player via the Connected Media app.
- Mail – Adds slide to get to conversation mode, mail with attachments, and unread mail which is a nice addition to the regular mail app. (This does not effect the Gmail app).
- Internet – Basically a skin over the original browser. One added feature is the ability to see your windows and bookmarks as tiles instead of text or small windows.
HTC App Additions
- HTC Hub (which is also present on their Windows Phone devices) allows you to head to a special HTC only market with all of their apps, widgets, scenes, skins, and sound sets. This is integrated throughout their personalization apps as a Get More button.
- Friend stream is a feed of all your Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr feeds combined. You can also post status updates to one or all of them at the same time.
- Connected Media allows you to share music, photos, and videos to any DLNA connected device on your wireless or bluetooth networks.
- Listen is an HTC branded music store, where you can download and purchase songs directly from HTC.
- Watch is the same as Listen but for movies.
- Task Manager is a way to see what tasks are running and have the ability to kill unwanted ones.
- Transfer is an app that allows you to possibly transfer contacts, text messages and calendar events from your old phone to your new HTC phone via Bluetooth.