HTC is trying to make a comeback this year. Their One series of devices represents their biggest effort yet to make a competitive, compelling Android experience. And with the One series of devices we get Sense 4.0. There’s very much a love/hate sentiment when it comes to Sense: it improves the appearance of Android in a lot of cases, but it has also been blamed for providing too much visual flair at the expense of efficiency and consistency. It used to be that Android badly needed Sense, that is, before Ice Cream Sandwich was released. But with Android 4.0, Google has redoubled their effort to make Android good out of the box with their Holographic UI. And they’ve succeed, if the success of the Galaxy Nexus is any indication.
Sense 4.0 is a mixed bag. While it improves many of the stock applications, like Email, Calender, Contacts, and the Phone, it also messes with some of the best parts of Ice Cream Sandwich that should never have been touched in the first place. Let’s take a closer look.
In stock ICS, folders are glorious: they open super fast, they’re very easy to make, and they don’t have a lot of extra padding. Folders in Sense 4.0 are the exact opposite: they animate upon opening, they add an unnecessary function with the “Add” button, and they have a bunch of extra padding.
In stock ICS, the dedicated app switcher key brings up a list of four recently used apps, and you can scroll up to see more. In Sense 4.0, you’re presented with two, and sometimes three apps in one view, and to see more, you can scroll through a visually intense Apple-like coverflow of your open apps. It’s not efficient, and HTC should have kept with stock ICS here.
In stock ICS, settings are as they should be: straightforward, a bit boring, and fast. In Sense 4.0, settings are beautiful, especially if you like bright colors and a variety of textures. Seriously: why butter up this section of the OS, HTC?
Ah, finally, somewhere where HTC has added value! There’s nothing wrong with the stock ICS email client (and don’t be mislead by our “Bad!” indicator on the image above…we’re just going for consistency here). The Sense 4.0 email client does really neat things with threaded messages, it provides you with text buttons instead of icons, and it just feels faster and more efficient than what stock ICS gives you.
What do you think of HTC Sense 4.0? Is it good enough to where you prefer it over stock ICS, or is HTC missing the point?