Redefining HTC Sense

BlinkFeed delivers news to your home screen

Last week was a major milestone for us, marked by the introduction of the new HTC One and a completely redesigned user experience, HTC Sense. Over the last few years we’ve taken an evolutionary approach to extending and refining Sense. That changes with this latest release, which represents our most radical shift in user experience design since introducing Sense in 2009.

After releasing Sense 4 last year, I challenged the team to step back and take a fresh look at the overall customer experience.  We interviewed customers for their personal feedback and we became students of human behavior, taking more time than ever to observe how people use their phones today.

During our research, a few consistent patterns emerged:

  • Most people don’t differentiate between apps and widgets.
  • Widgets aren’t widely used – weather, clock and music are the most used and after that, fewer than 10% of customers use any other widgets.
  • Most of you don’t modify your home screens much. In fact, after the first month of use, approximately 80% of you don’t change your home screens any more.

What did we learn? We needed to dramatically reinvent HTC Sense to meet your actual needs.

A New Way to Consume Information

With these three guiding principles in place, we looked closely at how you consume information. Our existing home screen, and frankly any home screen you see on a mobile device, is at least loosely based on the desktop experience originated by Xerox in the 1980’s. It was a useful approach to help people transition their physical work environment to something digital. However, the utility of the desktop model evaporates when you’re serving an entire generation of customers who consume information via Facebook, Twitter and other feeds, as we do in 2013.

We became students of human behavior, taking more time than ever to observe how people use their phones today”

The goal of creating a user experience that supports how most of you consume information, led us to BlinkFeed. Now, every time you power on your new HTC One you’ll see fresh content – whether it is from your friends, your social feeds, or our premier content partners – that is uniquely relevant to you.

Enhanced Audio Experience

Of course the user experience extends beyond software. In our research we observed people huddled around the phone to hear music or videos. So we introduced BoomSound, delivered by two front-facing speakers and a powerful built-in amplifier. Combine this with Beats Audio and you won’t believe the sound that comes from this phone.

Have you ever taken a video clip at a concert only to watch it later and find the sound is completely distorted? To solve this we’ve also added two dual-membrane microphones that deliver distortion-free audio recordings at both high and low volumes.


Redefining the Camera Experience

The ability to capture and share great photos is an inherent part of the phone experience today. Because of this, we felt it was time to step away from the arms race of packing more megapixels into a camera based simply on the argument that ‘bigger is automatically better.’ Nothing could be less true when it comes to your camera, which is why we’ve focused on delivering UltraPixels that let more light in and improve the overall quality of photos taken with your phone. This, along with features like Zoe, make the camera experience in HTC One our best ever, and we’ll share more on it in another upcoming post here.


These are just some of the highlights. We’ve updated Sense to better meet your needs and I know you’ll really enjoy the changes and see how it impacts how you actually use your phone.

  • backlashsid

    I still believe the designers at HTC could have done a way better job at the clock (font…crispness and minimalism) and the weather icons !!

  • http://UnleashThePhones.com/ Clinton Jeff

    Dont agree with the “widgets arnt widely used” bit since I use quite a few on my HTC Butterfly, but I definitely liked what I saw with the HTC One 🙂

    • http://blog.htc.com/ Larry Meadows

      I also use a lot of widgets, but I can tell you from all the customers I meet, many don’t, only use apps shortcuts. Butterfly is awesome! Hope you like it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001452282854 Pradumn Ar

        @htcadmin:disqus mate can u plz tell how many maximum no. of homescreens can be added for apps & widgets other than blinkfeed??..reply appreciated..

        • http://twitter.com/hhaaacc e-greg

          4 other than blinkfeed

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001452282854 Pradumn Ar

            thanks for the reply mate..though r u sure about it??

          • http://blog.htc.com/ Larry Meadows

            Greg is correct – 4 plus blinkfeed

  • http://twitter.com/USTommyMC Tommy

    I agree with the “widgets aren’t widely used”. I use widgets and can’t live without them but a small majority doesn’t equate to “widely”. Power users are the minority and always will be. A UI needs to cater to the mass majority (aka average user) while not limiting the power user. HTC Sense has always been my preferred UI on Android and can’t wait to get the new HTC One.

  • http://www.yashmaheshwari.com/ Yash Maheshwari

    Have to admit that even I never got around to using widgets beyond the Calendar & Mail widgets.

  • Lugnofin

    I wonder: how easy or hard will it be for a small publishing house to create content that are a part of blinkfeed?

  • http://twitter.com/mostlynerd Mostly Nerd

    However, Tiles are used a lot more and so the new Sense is all tiles?

  • Lucian

    In a slightly off topic question, but still related to what actually matters in a device? Will you launch a medium/high end dual-sim phone? I know that technically dual-sims are not associated with medium/high end phones but in an ever mobile world, there are cases where travellers would enjoy using their phone and sims from both their country of origin and the one they are visiting.

  • Kendal

    @HTC will the other devices such as the One X, One S have the option to Upgrade Sense 5 or a flavour of Sense 5?they are fairly new and high end would be a shame if they couldn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/DarioGonzlz Darío González

    Larry, I’m thinking on getting htc one but I’ve a few questions about it. Will you add Google reader possibility to blinkfeed? And, is it possible to disable bar menu as it is on the current htc one x? Thanks!

  • Amro99

    Thanks Larry for this informative post. Although most of the changes in sense 5 seem positive, but there are still few things that make me think of shifting to another brand… to me the first shortcoming of sense 5 is its weak video player! according to HTC One’s official spec sheet, this phone still can not handle .mkv video formats out of the box. is this really so difficult for HTC? specially when your competitors’ phones have been supporting this format from 2011 & 2012?? another one is not including useful features like Smart Stay which can be very useful for users, while probably very easy to embed in Sense. Another issue i have with sense 5 (as it seems to be the same as previous versions) is absence of a uniform transition effect for opening and closing apps-maybe like IOS. i am definitely not talking about wierd ones, but at least something close to stock JB just to make the phone OS not look like Symbian at times (in terms of those effects).

  • ScottEdwardCalibraxis

    Widgets and other continuously updated on-screen content are problematic- they consume battery too rapidly for those of us who use our phones constantly. Sadly, th ose of us who use are phones constantly are the only people who are aware of and interested in using widgets.

  • http://twitter.com/cookiebandit cookiebandit

    I don’t use widgets – they waste battery plus since I don’t have “always-on” data, widgets wouldn’t be updating regularly anyway. What would be the point of cluttering up the screen?

    I do, however, customize my homescreen, except that I have to use 3rd party apps to add a simple dock and to change icons (I have an older version of sense). Plus, the lack of a simple clock on Sense is frustrating.

    I would love to use HTC Sense and not have to bother with app launchers or other apps, but unfortunately HTC Sense is too much bells-and-whistles for me. An option for simplicity should be built in.

  • Ray

    That is Great, but when will it be available?

  • ddd

    HTC Sense 5 officialy fot HTC One X and One X+ .. question is.. WHEN? ;]

  • http://evildevnull.com/thinktank/index.php?action=collapse;c=14;sa=collapse;d227fb2388ec=9e8bb86861f0686e54bcbaae99929bbd#c14 George Leon

    Funny, since your home screen sure looks like one big widget to me, polling weather, time, the date, Facebook feeds, video from somewhere & latest news. HTC conducted a poll on their FaceBook page awhile back & the biggest requested item was for HTC to expand & build upon Sense as an independent ecosystem. At any rate, it matters little to me because until HTC starts providing premium service, I for one will not be paying premium dollars for a so-called “flagship” device. Especially not in the U.S., where history shows that HTC abandons flagship devices & fails to manage the update process. I may hate Apple, but when it comes to updates they got it right, refusing to leave their reputation in the hands of companies like AT&T & Verizon.

  • Jan Szulc

    I would use more widgets if there would be more of them. I don’t like the change

  • Clifford Reed

    Phone looks great but how much will the phone be on a contract.

  • G2

    Gotta agree. I’m in the market for a new phone to replace my old HTC, and like everything about the design and hardware approach, but they lost me with this home screen stuff. I don’t want to be bludgeoned with annoying Facebook nonsense or news updates every time I use my phone or worse, targeted ads in huge space-wasting boxes. I want a home screen I can customize for have quick access to my most used apps like I do now. Let me get to my phone and decide what I want to see before forcing content down my throat.

    Is it possible to disable these feeds and customize the screen to just most used apps? If not, I’m gonna have to wait for Samsung’s next move, unfortunately.

    Also, not a fan of how huge these flagship phones have become. It’s defeating the purpose of a portable device, but that’s another blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sactodramos David Ramos

    I had the opportunity to spend time using the HTC one and was given a personal tutorial on all of its new features and design. Suffice it to say that I was very impressed. So many options to configure to your own personal preferences. Nothing is locked in. Blink feed is optional. Set it or discard it. Way too much to post here. Just a terrific design and wrap around. I intend to upgrade to it as soon as its available. I’d recommend this to my customers as well. I don’t work retail side, I work in resolutions so its my job to find the right fit to get you where you need to be and this phone does it on so many levels. Looking forward to it.

    • Cory Maclay

      Thanks for this David. Question: what was your experience w/battery life?

  • mack

    Hi HTC
    when it will be available in India?
    BuyCheapIndia dot com people are waiting to buy it.

  • Jason Nast

    I want you to fix the phone vs people in sense. Because now it doesn’t make any sense at all!

    Also please please please GOD Please give us back a replaceable battery. We all laugh at the iPeople plugged in and tethered to their little white cable sitting on the floors of conferences and meeting rooms all across America! They way all this data and apps consume battery life why would you remove the benefit of a replaceable battery?

  • The Mad Duke

    Swipe screen from the right will reveal the stock android interface. I also believe you are able to disable it completely although that part wasn’t demonstrated to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rubyfdk Ruby Bhatnagar

    I started feeling that Windows 8 mobile OS is leap ahead of android as sense 5 is employing LIVE widgets which is clearly imitation of Windows Mobile interface.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oriol-Ferrerons-Manich/1215793148 Oriol Ferrerons Manich

    You keep leaving out my language (catalan), even when Google offers it since android 2.3. Samsung and Sony also offer it in their phones, too. You should think about that, it’s a bad decision.

  • Matthew Fischer

    Only major complaint about the HTC one is no email Widget. Fix this NOW! This is a huge upset after coming from the MyTouch 4G which did have the email widget. Why should I have to go buy a new widget for my new phone? Why did HTC push that cost on to me? These are the questions I have to ask myself. These are now questions I am going to have on my next phone purchase. Why would I ever return to HTC after they delete all of the things that I loved on their older phones. You want to delete it because a large number of people dont use it? Just screw the large number of people who do use it. Just do a google search and see the number of people posting in forums for suggestions for their missing HTC apps in their new phones. Let me join the masses… If you want to delete them from the phone, make them available on the Android market so the people who do want them can get them. Is it that hard?

  • http://www.facebook.com/terp.fotografi Terp Fotografi

    started feeling that Windows 8 mobile OS is leap ahead of android as sense 5

    /Torben, fotograf

  • James Mitchell

    Just bought an HTC One this past weekend — I think most folks don’t redefine their home screens because it’s not clear how to do it (it’s easy, but not terribly discoverable). I prefer it to launcherpro & such, but wish I could get facebook off of it instead of just making a different screen my home. A multi-day agenda widget would be much more useful. Please remember that not all users want to passively consume content.

  • Michal Lewandowski

    How about fixing the email widget?