“Sense 5 was a little too restrained and Swiss,” reflects HTC’s Vice-President of User Experience, Drew Bamford. “We were fairly limited in terms of what we could accomplish with one visual design that had to fit the personality of all of our customers.”
So in Sense 6, we wanted to serve up more choice and more possibilities for personalization. “HTC’s always been about letting people express themselves,” Bamford emphasizes, “what we’re trying to do is give people more options and flexibility.”
Perhaps you’ve already discovered how we’re reshaping the software. Sense 6 is rolling out for the HTC One M7, One mini and One max, and arrives pre-installed on our latest phones, like the One M8. Here’s a look behind the scenes of the design process.
Open up an HTC app and you’ll notice a linchpin of our evolving vision for Android.
“Color was one of the primary attributes we wanted to bring to this system,” Creative Director Dave Brinda explains. “It just makes it a more pleasant experience.”
Each of our apps now receives a rich, flat and vivid title bar. So when you go to a productivity app, for example Mail, a brilliant blue greets you. Information apps get a green treatment, entertainment is marked by our signature coral-orange and the default for everything else is tried-and-true black.
Yet while we prefer these four fantastic colors, Brinda explains that “color can be polarizing because some people have favorite ones. When we decided to move toward a more vibrant experience, it was important to introduce theming so people could pick their favorite color.”
Want to change your theme, but don’t know how?
Head over to the Settings menu, tap Personalize and look for the Theme section.
While we were breathing life into Sense, we moved toward more graceful fonts that are easier to read. The change is palpable, especially in BlinkFeed.
“A huge thing for me was the improvements we made to the typography,” Visual Designer Jesse Penico says with a smile, “it creates an open feeling.” His background in print layout fortified the last generation of Sense with an editorial quality, now smoothly polished for digital content.
“We brought in lightweight fonts and more regular fonts, as opposed to the bold and condensed ones that we had in Sense 5,” notes Penico.
A shift in font may seem simple, but it was driven by our desire to make BlinkFeed better. We found out that headlines in the highlight view were being truncated, forcing you to click into the detail view to find out what the story’s about. That didn’t mesh well with our intent to create a streamlined snack-like experience out of all the digital content you care about.
You’ll find the view is now more open and, thanks to some other advancements, you can now read each headline at a glance.
One of those extra refinements is the break from a 3-column grid and rigid paginated view.
We’ve opted instead for an open 2-column layout that scrolls seamlessly.
“It allows for a more dynamic grid, where our designers aren’t tied down by different page templates. Instead it’s all based on the content and the size of the images,” notes Penico of the switch.
Take Instagram, for example, where every picture is square. In Sense 5, we cropped them down to fit a standard-size tile and image window—meaning you’d never see the iconic presentation that’s synonymous with the app. Senior User Experience Designer, Wendy Chan, commends the visual design team for their work “in trying to figure out how to accommodate for all of these nuances that people are asking about—making sure you can read the entire headline, making sure some of the photos fit the actual layout.”
With the new grid, you receive a collage filled with rich, edge-to-edge images displayed landscape, portrait and even square.
Chan continues, “we know people don’t access BlinkFeed all the time—it’s when they’re waiting for the bus or on their commute.” That’s why it was really important for us to create a sleek feed of news, social media, blogs and other online content that you care about. It becomes a kind of mini-magazine that’s focused on your unique interests.
We’re always innovating new concepts to help your phone reflect you and everything you do, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy these tweaks!