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[Rant] ICS for HTC Sense: Damn Is This a Boring, Outdated Interface

Steven Blum
9

 

We've talked a lot about how HTC has NOT been creating very innovative devices over the past six months, and the reveal of HTC's Sense 4.0 skin only confirms this. We've now received a number of screenshots of what the interface will look like on HTC's newest phones and we have to say we're deeply unimpressed.

There's not much time left before Mobile World Congress opens its doors, so this very well might be the interface we'll see on the HTC phones there. At first glance, Sense's 4.0 update does not look new, at all.

Now I know that Sense has its fans out there and I don't mean any disrespect, but DAMN is this a boring interface. It was mildly interesting when it was revealed on the HTC Sensation, but the entire mobile universe has moved so far beyond this design that now it just looks like yesterday's news. And seriously, when the stock Ice Cream Sandwich update looks as futuristic and fine as it does, I just can't imagine folks being more impressed by this mildly updated interface than the OG ICS look.

How did things turn out like this? Well, that's the thing about manufacturer's skins: when push comes to shove, they actually limit innovation.  Manufacturer's become attached to their own interface designs and when a major Android update rolls along, they just don't put in the work to make the necessary changes to their skins so that they accurately reflect the innovations of the new OS. 

It may be premature but I'm going to call this a big fail for HTC. Unless, of course, there's something we're not seeing here, which could very well be the case. If you're a huge Sense fan, shout at me in the comments section and maybe we can get a good discussion going about what, exactly, the appeal is of this Disneyfied user interface over stock Android. As it looks right now, it's making me want to fall asleep on my keyboard and..... dfklgndflgndfgdfgl.mdgmödfgm (*snoring*). 

UPDATE: Oh, and to be fair...I don't like TouchWiz's ICS Update either...that's a whole 'nother rant.

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Comments

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  • Yan Matusevich Feb 14, 2012 Link

    A bit harsh, no? For conservatives like me it isn't all that bad.

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  • Steven Blum Feb 14, 2012 Link

    But where's the innovation? This looks almost EXACTLY the same as the old version. I have no qualms with Sense 3.0, and I actually think it gets the job done quite nicely (I really liked playing around with the HTC Sensation for a month) but Android in general has moved on, and the stylistic upgrades on Android 4.0 make Sense look plain in comparison. What do you like about Sense and why would you choose it over stock Android? Not to get over-confrontational...I'm actually really interested!

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  • Yan Matusevich Feb 14, 2012 Link

    not about to get into a huge discussion over this, but my problem with ICS in general is that (call me old, lame and technologically-handicapped) it kind of makes my brain explode.

    i feel like I am being overstimulated with the beauty of the whole thing. Obviously, I need to actually own an ICS phone to really know what I am talking about, but my experiences with the Galaxy Nexus were so-so. It looks amazing, but it feels like it's a bit too much.

    Sure, HTC could've done a much better job on making Sense 4.0. actually look different, but I am just going to remain stubborn here and say that I like the look and feel of Sense. Maybe it's just because the HTC Hero was my first Android phone and I look back on it with fondness and nostalgia. But maybe there's something larger at stake here.

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  • Steven Blum Feb 14, 2012 Link

    I have to say that Sense has always felt functional and secure...like someone had taken a few of the best elements of Android and packaged them in a pleasing way...but once I got the hang of stock Android, I never want to go back.

    I can totally understand the over stimulation feeling, though...there's a lot going on. And maybe nostalgia does come into play with your love for Sense. I ain't judgin'!

    I just think, strategically, both Samsung and HTC need to take a better look at ICS and what makes it special before integrating it into their UI. And I know that this whole argument seems silly given the fact that many just flash custom ROMs these days, but what these behemoths do with stock Android still matters to many consumers.

    I'm being harsh, I know, but someone's gotta!

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  • Eric McBride Feb 14, 2012 Link

    I can say that after using Sense ICS for a week on a custom ROM, that they really brought minimal changes from 3.5. I couldn't agree more with this article. Sense is starting to look a lot like IOS: outdated and boring.

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  • Karl Young Feb 14, 2012 Link

    I am really trying to understand it from your point of view. ICS looks monotone and "Tron like". I mean, didn't it steal it's locksceen from HTC? Even HTC's lockscreen on Gingerbread looks better and is more functional than ICS. It sounds more like you are more of a "stock android" fanboy and an "anti skin" fanboy. You won't like ANY skin over stock. And that's cool. But my point is that Android steals a lot of it's ideas from skins like HTC. Then they wrap all those features up and call it "innovative" when the developer world has been using tweaks and features like this forever!

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  • Eric McBride Feb 14, 2012 Link

    @Karl Steal the lockscreen from HTC? Umm...no. The stock lockscreen on Android looks nothing like that...at all....not even close. I understand if you think it looks better, as thats a matter of personal taste, but the FACT of the matter is skins in general do nothing to add or optimize the experience of Android. They actually do the opposite. Me personally, I think skins are complete and utterly useless "additions" (nice word for crap) that do NOTHING but slow down your device. Does that make me a "fanboy"? Certainly not, and heres why:

    FACT: Run a Quadrant score on Android ICS without a skin and with a skin, and tell me which score blows the other one out of the water.

    FACT: One of the first things uber devs like Cyanogen or Roman over at XDA do when optimizing a ROM is too remove the skin from the ROM. Why do they do this? Because skins are filled with so much bloatware and poorly implemented OS modifications that they are proven to slow the device down.

    FACT: HTC have stated from their own mouths that skins are starting to become pointless.

    FACT: Have a look at Sense 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0, and tell me the main differences. You wont find many, and thats because its getting extremely outdated. I have used them all, and while I at one time liked Sense, I can tell you that my stock ICS running on my Sensation vs the best Sense ICS performance isnt even comparable.

    FACT: Skins are one of the main reasons that Android is so fragmented.

    FACT: Skins are one of the main reasons that updates take forever on non stock devices.

    ...and so on and so on....

    Im not trying to attack you bro. But honestly, can you give me a good reason to use sense other than the fact that you like how it looks?

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  • Karl Young Feb 14, 2012 Link

    A good reason? Well that reason is right in your post. You said "thats a matter of personal taste". Isn't that what America is all about? I

    CS actually uses a type of skin. And if the retro Tron look is your thing, then who am I to judge. But if you don't think that HTC first developed the lockscreen first on Winmo and then Android then you missed something.

    Are any iterations of Sense that much different cosmetically than the other? No. Does that make it a bad thing? Not really. It reminds me of my BMW. BMW's retain their value because in general, they don't make radical changes from model year to model year. They just improve on what's there.

    And to quote Quadrant scores? We ARE running dual core and in some cases quad core chips. Most of the hiccups should be addressed with android itself and not it's skin.

    Look, I agree that HTC needs to step out of the box a bit. But don't give Android that much credit for a quantum leap forward from android version to android version either.

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  • chinu Feb 15, 2012 Link

    so the bottom line is- HTC could have developed more innovative sense 4.0 :D

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