Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I've had an HTC device for about 8 months now. The HTC Desire on US Cellular to be more specific. When I first had it it had Android Eclair (2.1) installed on it, with the Sense UI version 1 over top of Android. In less than a month I began to grow tired of still running Android 2.1, and was wanting 2.2, also not having very much space for apps, and the so-so battery life. So, I rooted my Desire and installed CyanogenMod 6.1.1 on it, which is running on Android 2.2. I was very happy. My install had cMTD with it so i also had more space for apps, and i also noticed a difference in the battery life, it lasted longer. I also didn't have to see that US Cellular bloatware that they installed on the device anymore. Not to long i began to get board of looking at the same thing every day so I started to experiment with other ROMs for the Desire. I liked many. But I was still on the hunt to find the right ROM, and set up correctly so that I could have plenty of app space. But I eventually got tired of looking at stock Android, and had that feeling in side of me, that missed the Sense UI. But i eventually found a ROM which was based off the official 2.2 Sense UI firmware from US Cellular. Only this ROM also had A2SD support, was still rooted, and had all the US Cellular bloatware removed. Sill though, i dont have a ton of App space, and the battery still i so-so, but i can live with it. Im still waiting for developeres to create and even better ROM with Sense UI, and one that possibly updates the Sense UI to 2.0, or better yet 3.0.
A Sense UI homescreen

But enough of that, here is my review of some of the features of HTC's Sense UI 1.0 on my US Cellular HTC Desire.

First-off, the home-screen. Some major differences between stock Android and the Sense UI homescreen are; on the bottom, instead of the dock being orderd: Phone - Launcher - Browser, Sense's is orderd: Launcher - Phone - Add to Homescreen. Also, Sense's is a big curved dock with the Phone button being the largest. I am not a particular fan of this order or set up, though it is pretty and it works well. I would have the App Launcher int he center, with the largest button, and Phone to the left, and a browser shortcut to the right. Yes, like the stock Android dock. I kinda find the Add to Homescreen button pointless, as you get the same result by holding your finger in a blank area on the desktop.


Stock Android calendar - day view


Sense calendar - day view 
Next, lets look at the Calendar app. HTC has spazzed-up the calendar, giving it the Sense UI look and colour, etc. They also changed how it works. I like day view. In the default Android calendar on day view it shows where in the day you are with a red line. Then all your appointments as coloured blocks on the screen and when they start and when they end. It's kinda nice. (As shown to the right). On the Sense calendar they did away with this type of day view and simply changed it to a list and what time they start... Or so you though? Actually that is the default view for day view. In the settings of the calendar you can actually change it show it displays like the stock Android calendar. (As seen on the left).


Sense Browser, with address bar down
browser windows in sense
Now, lets go to the browser. I really do like the browser on Android. Its very Chrome like, that's because it basically is Chrome. HTC has changed the browser a bit in Sense. One big difference is, that on the Sense version, it goes full screen. When its done loading a web page, the address bar hides. And when you start the browser the status bar on the top of your phone hides as well. They don't all show unless you press the Menu button on the phone. This is nice. It gives you full use of the screen real-estate. HTC also changed around the Menu options a bit from the stock browser. On the stock Android browser the first Menu option is "New Page" which opens a new browser tab. I like that option. On the Sense browser the first option is Back. I find  that unnecessarily because you can just use the physical back button on your phone to go back. Also on the Sense browser Menu, an Add Bookmark button is right there. A one-click to add to bookmarks button. On stock Android you have to go into the Booksmarks and click add. Though I will say, ill take the stock Android option and would rather have the New Page button right there. Though managing the open browser pages is alot nicer in Sense. In stock Android its just a list of pages, in Sense its more like the webOS card interface. Also, sorta like Safari on iOS like, giving you a view of the page, and you swipe across to see the other ones.

Badge on Mail app
Now, for the Mail app. This is Sense's replacement of the default Email app found on Android devices. No, this is not the Gmail app. If you use the Gmail app on your Sense UI device, it will look the same as Gmail on a stock Android device. HTC spruced up the Email app (also re-naming it to simply, Mail) by giving it the Sense UI look, and adding those TouchFLO like controls buttons along the bottom. You can also, like normal, use more than one email account with it. It notifies you ever time something new comes in, and lets you know the unread items by highlighting them with a green marker on the left. It will also have a number in a green bubble showing you how many unread emails there are outside of the app, on the App icon, similar to how iOS' icon have badges on the icon. Also with the Mail app, you get a nice little widget for the homescreen that alow you to flip though your emails in a nice realistic looking pile.

The Sense camera
The camera has also been spifified. The stock Android camera works great, but the UI of it is sorta ugly... and could use some work. But the Sense camera is nice. The UI is great, and it works great. There is no shutter button on the app. It shows the camera full screen. There is only a few buttons on the screen, them being; go to the Gallery, Flash on/off/auto, zoom, and the menu for it, which can also be accessed via the physical Menu button of course. The app also has the feature of Geo-tagging the picture with the phone's GPS, which is very nice, but is not enabled by default. The camcorder works pretty much the same, though it only works in landscape mode.

On the homescreen HTC added many nice widgets of there own. Them being, a nice Clock, Mail, Texts, News, Contacts,Bookmarks, Calculator, Calendar, Footprints, Music, Photo album/photo frame, settings widgets, and weather to name some. You can also download a few from HTC, such as a Coin Flip, Notes, or a Tip Calculator.

So there you go. Some features of HTC's Sense UI. There is more features of course, but this was a quick look. I may add some more reviews on specific HTC apps, such as Footprints, or the Flashlight.  Anyways, thanks for taking a read of this, and any questions you may have can go into the comments section. Thanks much. Now I leave you with some more screenshots of the Sense UI...

More Screenshots


Quick jump from homescreen pages

Launcher
Weather app
Some Widgets

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