Android 4.0 / HTC Sense 4.0 Interface
One of the big appeals of the HTC One series of handsets is that they’re shipping now with the latest 4.0 version of Android. In contrast the Sony Xperia S still runs a previous version, while most other handsets set to run the new software simply haven’t come to market yet.
The performance enhancements of the update combined with the speedy processor make for a pretty slick experience. There are a few older handsets that are getting the Android 4.0 update (including of course the Samsung Galaxy S2), but rollout is proving slow and performance and stability is variable. Here there are no such problems, though.
Visually, the whole interface has been tweaked to move away from the futuristic Tron style of vanilla Android 4.0 to a more sedate look that should be familiar to existing HTC owners. Overall it’s a style we quite like and for the most part it’s slick and easy to use, though ideally we’d like the option to simply switch back to a standard Android layout if possible, though that complaint applies to almost all non-Nexus Android handsets.
Starting from the top, on the lock screen you can access one of four apps, saving you having to unlock the phone then find the app – great for getting to the camera quickly in the absence of a dedicated hardware button. You can also have the lock screen show a choice of your latest photos, notifications, appointments and more.
Once unlocked you’re greeted by HTC’s long loved clock/calendar/weather widget, and there are a healthy selection of other widgets to add to the seven homescreens. Pinch you fingers together and you can see an overview of all your homescreens.
Organising the phone’s homescreens is incredibly easy on this handset. Not only has Android 4.0 made creating and managing folders of apps easier – just drag and drop like on iPhone – but the interface for adding widgets is great. All the homescreens are shown along the top while below are rows of widgets shown in a useful thumbnail size that allow you to see what they look like properly.
Swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up your notifications and while you can’t access quick settings for things such as turning off WiFi (as you could on old HTCs), you can jump straight to the main settings app. HTC has also meddled with the Recent Apps menu – that which is opened when pressing the bottom right button under the screen. This has been changed from a very easy to use vertical scrolling list of small thumbnails to one that has enormous thumbnails that are too large for quickly scanning your apps, and the scrolling action is awful too.
Along the bottom of the screen are four fixed icons for the dialler/contacts manager, email, text messages and camera, which surround the central main menu button. Unlike previous HTCs these icons can be changed to whatever apps you like.