Sense 5: What’s New

The HTC One has finally been announced. The days of rumors and leaks are over, and we can now sleep easy knowing how this glorious device looks like. But there is a lot more to it than hardware: The software on a phone makes or breaks the user experience. So how is the brand new Sense 5?

The first thing you will notice about Sense 5 is the tiles on the home screen. This is called Blink Feed. It’s a content aggregator that draws content, be it news, social, or anything straight to your home screen. This content becomes front and center, putting a focus on always being connected. No longer do you need to enter an app, it’s now built into your launcher. HTC calls it a “new imagination of the homepage.”

Blink Feed caches its data so there won’t be excess data usage, for all you people on tiered data. And to the left and right of the Blink Feed are regular home screens where you can place widgets and apps. However, if you’re not a fan of this approach, you could always turn it off.

Not only is the home screen different, the entire launcher has been tweaked. Icons are all simple and not crazy 3D anymore. The app drawer is also different, having folders within it. HTC also lets you customize how many icons show per page, making it more or less condensed. And if you back out of an app, you’ll be taken back to the app drawer instead of the homescreen. It’s a bigger focus on apps and using them efficiently.

On the camera side, they have integrated something called Zoe Camera into Sense 5. Basically, it constantly records video when the camera app is on. It somehow edits those clips it takes into movies, including cuts and music. It’s a pretty cool feature that can then be shared across your social networks or HTC’s Zoe Share. We aren’t sure how useful this will be but it’s definitely a cool thing to have. Extra content can’t hurt.

But the biggest change, in our opinion, is how they slimmed down Sense 5. We all know how bloated and slow Sense 3.5 was, and Sense 4 was a step in the right direction but still not quite there. Sense 5 aims to finally hit the mark on being a slimmed down, fast manufacturer skin.

Widget selection, the number one most recognized feature of Sense, has been put aside. Most weren’t used anyway, and having that selection was purely gimmicky (I always tried to see how many clocks I can fit on all the home screens), so that’s definitely a wise choice. That isn’t to say they’re gone, but they are no longer the focus of the user experience.

A bunch of HTC apps are now gone, such as Music Hub, Locations and Footprints. Apps with no real purpose have been torn out, replaced with only apps people will actually use. And taking a page out of Samsung’s book, HTC added an app to control that brand new IR transmitter. You can control your TV through your phone, and use it alongside HTC Watch (to buy media) and HTC Medial Link HD (to send it to your TV).

And finally, there is now a Kid Mode. We assume this just locks important apps and keeps them from buying things. Maybe it has a set of age restrictions too, we aren’t sure. But it should be handy for the family man.

So what do you guys think? Is it a big improvement? Will it satisfy your AOSP-fueled needs well enough? Or is HTC still missing the mark? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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