HTC Sense head says custom UIs still add value to Android 4.0

HTC Sense head says custom UIs still add value to Android 4.0
A lot of people prefer stock Android over the various custom launchers and other tweaks that OEMs add to differentiate their phones. Yet HTC Sense has at times had as many devotees as detractors. In an interview with Laptop, HTC’s head of Sense development Drew Bamford provided some insight into where he thinks OEMs can still add value and places where Sense can still use some improvement.

Not surprisingly, Bamford feels that Sense 4.0 adds a lot of usability, in particular citing their many custom widgets (the time and weather widget being an icon Sense), as well as their custom email client and browser (not everyone will share Bamford’s assessment of those last two features). He also stressed the importance of usability – in particular labeling every control on the phone so that novice users will have a shorter learning curve if an HTC Android device is their first smartphone.

Bamford admitted that HTC had gotten a bit carried away with 3D transitions and other eye-candy in previous versions of Sense, referring to them as “disorienting”, although mostly reviewers just noted that the transition effects could sometimes create stuttering on phones with even the burliest of specs.

One other area that Bamford sees as important is naturally branding – he says that by creating a unique “HTC branded” experience that is consistent across all their phones they hope that customers will ask for an HTC phone rather than simply asking for Android and then asking a sales rep which is the best one. It’s hard to fault a company for wanting to create this sort of differentiation, but it’s important to note that this goal, while laudable, is also what gets OEMs into trouble, when they start to change things simply for the sake of branding, rather than putting users’ interest first.

One thing is clear though; Bamford is pleased with Sense 4.0, and despite Google's efforts at creating a more distinctive design personality for Android, we won’t be seeing the death of OEM UI customization anytime soon.

Source: Laptop via Engadget

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30 Comments

1. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I can't say for sure if it's just HTC's Sense web browser but they seriously need to fix the stutter and lag of the web browser. There is no excuse for a quad core or S4 processor lagging so badly. If last year's exynos processor can run smooth with next to no lag, what is the problem with this?

3. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Hopefully it's just a software thing (in fact, that's almost certainly what it is) and it'll just be fixed in an update. Even my original Evo reflows text with no stutter/lag. I might have to use Chrome for a while when I get the Evo LTE, which is disappointing because I absolutely love the text-reflow on HTC browsers. It's so handy not to have to scroll back-and-forth to read things.

4. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

yeah, i noticed it too a few days ago. it's pretty pathetic.

2. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I am running Nova launcher with my ICS DROID RAZR....if it is done right, then, YES, it can add value...

5. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

i actually stopped using Nova on my Razr because the .181 update fixed enough to make me happy using Stock and not using Nova saves Battery Life and actually increases performance. Stock is so much more smoother than Nova.

6. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Wait, what's Nova?

11. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Says it's incompatible with my RAZR MAXX...? I currently use GO Launcher EX, it's fine for me.

12. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

you can only use it on ICS.

14. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Ahhh! How does it compare with GO launcher? Also, what's your favorite keyboard?

18. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

it doesn't pack as many features but it has the essentials like hiding apps in the app drawer, re-sizing widgets, changeable icons, the works. what is to like about it is that it all comes together really nicely into this whole holo style package that's really easy to use. actually in all honesty it's Motorola's Multitouch Keyboard. i'm not just being a fan boy either, i've come to that conclusion after using many kinds of keyboards including Swiftkey, GO Keyboard & Better Keyboard. my next two favorites are Samsung's Keyboard and Thumb Keyboard.

27. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Oh okay, you don't like swype-based keyboards? The razr comes with swype, do you like it? My favorites are: 1) Smart Keyboard 2) Perfect Keyboard 3) Touchpal 4) Motorola's Multitouch Keyboard 5) Swiftkey X 6) Stock swype (due to its lack of options)

30. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

well i'm still kind of reeling off of physical keyboards so maybe after i'm on good ground with typing on virtual keyboards i'll experiment more with swyping keyboards.

8. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

i like the extra bit of functionality Nova brings. stayin with it for the time being.

16. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

exactly - I can mod where the time goes, the battery appearance...the lock screen functions, etc...etc...etc

15. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

seriously, nova is not smooth? Do you run ICS 4.0.4 on your RAZR? I do, and it is awesome.

19. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

yeah, it's not as smooth compared to the Leaked Stock 4.0.3 .181 build for the Razr. i'd probably use Nova again if at least the updated "Favorite Contacts" Widget from the new build worked with GO Launcher. it's a Widget i've liked since 2.3.4 on my Droid 3.

21. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

*Nova Launcher

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

instead of trying to shove your opinion down your customer's throats, listen to us. If you want to have a custom ROM, cool.. fine. But do us all a favor and also make a high end vanilla phone. Then see how the sales fall. You may be surprised, HTC.

10. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

am sure if everyone wanted vanilla then more people would be buying nexus phones...also people who say sense and tw are bad,then how come they are popular with normal people and i would also bet that a tiny minority of the people who purchase android root or mod there phones.

17. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Taz, if the nexus was available on all carriers like a TW/Sense phone is, you would see its popularity skyrocket. A surprisingly large amount of android users install custom roms these days. Definitely not a majority, but a lot more than people might think. custom UIs have their place. But this is a phone site populated with the ubergeeks and modders of the Android world. Our opinion on things like Sense doesnt always match the popular opinion.

20. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

so far the only ICS Skins i like at all are Moto's & LG's. LG's is so nice and clean looking even though it does nearly overhaul the whole holo ICS experience and Moto's is the truest to stock ICS and they've found a fine line between their own differentiation and keeping a true ICS experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jelUADMIzU so, so, soooo nice. o.o

22. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Moto's is the least stock of all of them. Blur is very intertwined with the darkest pits of android. They just hide it better than they used to.. which is a good thing. It was very noisy when they first launched blur. Dont let it fool ya though, its a huge UI. It used to be right up there with sense, but they have finally scaled Sense back a bit with the new version. Still big, just not as big as it once was. I like both touchwiz and the LG UI (LG copied touchwiz quite a bit). I like them because they are not intrusive, and they are both EASY to get rid of. Neither Blur or Sense are easy to get rid of.. mostly you just try to hide it. LG and TW are basically just app launchers... Well at least the old TW was.. who knows with this new mega "natural" touchwiz they are launching

23. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

actually there's no such thing anymore. there's no trace of any Blur service in ICS. only MotoCast and Webtop which are quite unintrusive. how was Blur not easy to get rid of? get a Launcher on a Motorola phone and you'd barely know Blur was there. what are you basing your opinions off of? i think they're quite out of date. look at Verizon's Moto offerings really good and get back to me on that one.

24. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Majority of the people I know don't want to root or customize their phones. Basically, they want a phone that can do what they want intuitively immediately out of the box. Stop generalizing people and thinking that just because that's what tou want, then that is what everybody would want. It all comes down to you being so arrogant about your ignorance. You think you know everything but you don't. If you want vanilla Android, go buy a Galaxy Nexus. A lot of research is put into smartphone market and if OEMs aren't doing what you want, it's probably because you're the only one who wants it. And market shares for these companies are on a global basis. Not everyone lives on your country and uses the carrier that you want. And for most people, if they want it badly enough, they WILL buy it the same way I've been on a carrier but buying my preferred phones unbranded for a decade now because the carrier doesn't offer it. If the demand is too minimal to matter, then there simply is no reason to invest in providing the supply--- and risk fragmenting the kind of experience you want your brand to be associated with.

25. VJo003

Posts: 365; Member since: Mar 11, 2012

U seem to be really worked up... Just take a chill pill

29. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

or is people like remixfa acting like he is the boss and he knows best when in fact he is the opposite

31. mrochester unregistered

You are pretty much spot on; customers basically want whatever it is Apple and Samsung are doing. Other companies need to follow their leads.

28. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Not even close. The Nexus S was on ATT and Sprint and it was no where close to their best seller. For Sprint it was still the Evo 4g when the Nexus was out It is not a large amount people who install custom roms. It is a very small percent. People back up your statement. CM has what like a million plus download, but they support for over 15 device. So if we say a million sale per device it is only less then 10 percent of user are using the custom rom. And many custom Rom and base on the skin. Just for the evo 3D many of the popular rom and sense base rom.

13. parkwaydr

Posts: 572; Member since: Sep 07, 2011

I actually enjoy sense

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