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HTC One X Review - Android 4.0 / HTC Sense Interface Review

Android 4.0 / HTC Sense Interface
The HTC One X runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) but HTC has heavily customised it.

Starting from the top, the lock screen has been augmented with the ability to jump straight into your choice of four apps – just drag the icon into the grey circle. Or you can just drag the circle offscreen to unlock to the homescreen.

Once on the homescreen you’ll find seven screens various filled with widgets and apps, or left blank for you to add your own widgets. Sitting top dead centre is the HTC clock/calendar/weather widget which at a glance let’s you see what’s what. Tap it and you can get impressively detailed weather reports for the next few days.

Other widgets are the usual selection of mini media players, note takers, picture viewers, quick settings shortcuts and message readers. However, what isn’t usual is the superb way you manage all this lot. Hold your finger down on a homscreen and you’re taken to  a view that shows your homescreens along the top as small thumbnails and widgets/apps/shortcuts along the bottom as large thumbnails. Swipe through them and it’s easy to pick out the widgets you like the look of and place them just where you want.

One thing that HTC has changed that we’re not overly keen on is removing the universal Google search bar. The latest version of Android had made its long running search bar a fixed feature at the top of every homescreen, meaning you don’t have to faff about adding the widget on every page if you want it always to hand. HTC has relegated this back to just a widget, though.

Swipe down from the top of the screen and the notifications area doesn’t contain any quick settings, but does have a link straight to the Settings. As part of the latest Android update, notifications can now be swiped offscreen individually like on iPhone.

Dive into the App Launcher/Main Menu and apps are presented in side scrolling pages, listed alphabetically, by date (oldest) or date (most recent). We’re not a huge fan of this style, with a straight vertical list being our preference but at least it’s better than the standard Android 4.0 style. There are further tabs along the button of the App Launcher to show your Frequent or Downloaded apps.

One change we’re decidedly not keen on is the new interface for the quick app switcher. Tap the rightmost button below the screen and up pops a way to quickly switch between your open apps – a new feature in Android 4.0 – but rather than the default Android way, shown below, HTC has implemented its own style. It’s simply less efficient – you can only see one app at once – and the scrolling action to move through the apps doesn’t feel right, meaning you often overshoot the app you were aiming for.

HTC has also tweaked much of the styling of interface, with lots of shaded dark greys dominating the menus. It’s a classy look and one that adds to a feeling of quality about the whole handset – it’s a nice place to be.

The only real problem is again the screen size. Most of the time you’ll be fine, but there are enough occasions where the stretch to reach buttons and icons along the top edge is too much to maintain a decent grip on the handset. It’s the same with all big phones but simply worth noting that HTC hasn’t managed to miraculously get round this.

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