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Android

An HTC Sense-running tablet is a fantastic idea

By Joe Levi March 31, 2015, 7:32 pm
HTC Nexus Tablet, HTC Sense

I’m what most would call a “purist” when it comes to Android. The closer to AOSP a device can be, the better. Why? Several reasons, chief among them being consistency of experience and a timely updates – well, more timely than updates seem to come on devices with heavily modified versions of Android. All that having been said, a tablet running HTC Sense UI is a fantastic idea!

Honeycomb

Android Honeycomb UI

Tablets running the Android operating system started to pop up around the same time that Apple released its insanely popular iPad. Android wasn’t optimized for tablets back then (some would argue that it’s still not, even today). OEMs started cranking out tablets using the same version of Android that was intended for smartphones. Google asked everyone to stop while its developers worked on a version that would take the unique features of tablets into consideration.

Instead, we got Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

Honeycomb was a mess, but it did get some things right, specifically a new layout for tablets with on-screen soft keys and status bar that were combined into one row on the bottom (much easier to use with one’s thumbs than the having the status bar on top and the soft keys in the middle). The Google search widget and app drawer similarly shared space, this time at the top of the screen. The rest of the changes involved how menus and sidebars worked, and introduced the concept of screen Fragments (not to be confused with “fragmentation”) .

Unfortunately, after Honeycomb, Google opted for a “one size fits all” approach, which essentially made tablets just really big phones – without the phone. Et tu, Google?

HTC Sense UI on a tablet

It’s clear that Google’s stuck on one UI to bind phones, phablets, and tablets together… though watches, cars, laptops, and TVs get their own treatment, but I digress. Perhaps what we need is a bold OEM to bring its version of Android to tablets. That’s where Sense UI comes in to play.

HTC One Mini

From smartphones to phablets, HTC makes some amazing hardware. One platform that’s conspicuously missing from HTC’s lineup are tablets. Yes, HTC has made some tablets in the past, including the recently released Nexus 9, but like most Android-powered tablets, none of them take advantage of the extra screen real estate that tablets offer.

HTC also makes some very nice looking software. What if HTC were to build a tablet and cook up a special version of Sense UI that was optimized for all the unique properties of a tablet? The company could free up screen real-estate similar to how Honeycomb handled things. It could build its own suite of apps to be better suited to the tablet lifestyle. It could even bring windowed apps to the platform – something large-screened Androids have needed for a very, very long time.

As true to “stock Android” as I am, if HTC could pull this off, I’d happily pick up one of its tablets – as long as it was really a tablet and not just an oversized phone.

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