Dec 21 AT 4:14 PM Alberto Vildosola 97 Comments

Early version of Ice Cream Sandwich-flavored HTC Sense leaks out


A few months still stand between HTC fans and their ration of Ice Cream Sandwich goodness, but time be damned. The fine folks at XDA have done it again, this time managing to get their hands on a very early version of HTC’s Sense UI based on Ice Cream Sandwich.

As you can see below, not a lot has changed from the current version of Sense. But as I said, this build is as early as they get. We can expect the major UI changes — if any — to happen as we get closer to the final version. After all, it’s only been a few weeks since Google dropped the Ice Cream Sandwich source code.

Having said that, there are a few changes in the UI that show the new direction that Google is taking with Ice Cream Sandwich. Mainly, the new launcher with the app drawer in the middle accompanied by the two apps on each side. As for the rest of the UI, everything’s as glossy and plasticky as before — something we’ve seen Google’s Matias Duarte rally against so many times. Maybe the UI changes in Ice Cream Sandwich will convince the guys at HTC to pull back a bit on the highlights and gradients and focus more on clean lines and good typography.

As expected, this early ROM is full of bugs and shouldn’t be used by the faint of heart. Known bugs include not being able to set a wallpaper from the gallery, so if you’re into that kind of thing I’d suggest staying on the sidelines for now. However, if you eat buggy ROMs for breakfast and Kernel is a part of your daily vocabulary, you should go ahead and pay XDA a visit. Then come right back and let us know what you think.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to our attention that this ROM might come from XDA developers and not straight from HTC, so proceed with caution.

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Via: Phandroid

Source: XDA

Alberto is a college student living somewhere between Miami, Sarasota and the World Wide Web. Although a former iPhone owner, Alberto is now a proud Android enthusiast. You can follow Alberto on Twitter and Google+ for his thoughts unworthy of an article.

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  • ld6772

    Not so keen on the sense, I feel like it consumes a lot of resources. I’m using ADW and very happy with that, though it’d be nice to run ICS on the sensation.

    • xylexx55

      I agree. I can’t wait to have pure ICS on my sensation.

      • mr 1338

        All those ICS leaks lately :D
        i´ve long been a fan of sense (for the widgets only though) but with beautiful widgets i dont see the need for Sense anymore.

        Only sad thing is they didn´t keep the dock it was pretty nice

        • Steve

          So you don’t use the Sense contacts, clock, calendar, or camera apps? I don’t use the Sense launcher either, but I can’t find a better contact management app and I love having every type of clock and timer I may need rolled up into one app.

          • autonomousgerm

            Agreed, the Sense equivalents on gingerbread and before were much better. I’ve been using an early build of ICS on my Inspire. The ICS versions of all of those are better in every way than the Sense ones.

          • aykutb

            totally agreed,if it wasn’t for “people” app,it’d be a lot dull.still stylish tho if you tried sense 3.5

    • Jorge Eslava

      Pure ICS FTW!

      • elijahblake

        You can’t even tell that this is ICS.. Sense ruins ICS… when will the manufacturers realize we want AOSP????

        • Tony Torres

          yea agree. sense completely overshadows the desgin aspect of ics. damn you htc!

    • dafi81

      I will never again buy anything else but pure android phones.

      • Adam Brandt

        TOTALLY AGREE…After using the Nexus, I will NEVER buy another skinned phone again. No Blue, Touchwiz, Sence, or whatever

  • mjforte

    Sense is seriously looking dated. You can’t even tell this is ICS anymore. It’s a shame that ICS is being covered up with custom skins, because I think stock Android is actually beautiful for once.

    • booyootoo

      Couldn’t agree more with you, i hope that htc will cut back on the gloss and bloat. It looks heavy and feels heavy.

      I used to favor sense over stock, but with ice cream sandwich everything seems to be in place and working correctly. The only thing missing for me is fast toggle from the statusbar, like cyanogenmod and miui have built in.

      I actually dont like sense phones now. Maybe that is why sales are decreasing for htc?

      • lxgeorge

        Perhaps. I feel like if they made a vanilla ICS phone using their beautiful hardware it would be insanely good, but they face the same problem that the other manufacturers (especially Samsung) have: now more that ever, the custom skins that they put on just make Android look more childish. Sense was even one of the better ones, and it looked very sleek when it first came out, but ICS looks like it means so much business and has so much style that sense just detracts from it now.

  • stenzor

    I think that background is making it look worse than it is

    • pcon

      Agreed. I think the swirls are making it look a little jumbled with the launcher.

    • goncalossilva

      Definitely. But you can’t deny that all the gradients & gloss make it look very like 2009 :(

      • Sean-Franc

        I’d venture to put it even at 2008. I remember the first time I was asked to mock up a website menu bar to look “glossy” and “3D.” Nowadays, I’m striving to take away as much as possible, reclaiming negative space in favor of communicative design.

        Sense doesn’t make Sense anymore. Certainly not on ICS

  • jaxidian

    Oh man, WHY would you do that to ICS? Why, oh why????

    • Steve Heinrich

      I know! The greatest part of ICS is the LACK of shiny things… can’t say I’m too surprised though.

    • aranea

      Companies should release vanilla ICS or any other Android version for that matter for their phones. Their skins suck.

  • beatrixasdfghjk.

    Sense is pretty beautiful … Anxious to see what they can do with ICS. Dock’s a bit ugly :L

    • faun

      As you can see from the screen-shots, this is “Sense 3.5″ – i.e. bastard-sense. They’ll likely have this one which incorporates the Sense 3 styles into ICS, then with their next range of phones they’ll launch a more fully redesigned version (4) which will differentiate ICS more with a new interface.

  • protozeloz

    I think it looks dated, sorry guys but I think slight modifications to the new stock launcher and adding new widgets should be enough, this looks more like ADW 1.0

    • protozeloz

      forgot to log in D:

  • Thomas Biard

    With a few changes and a different background I think this could look pretty refined. Not a bad start, but def not a good finish

  • tpulu

    I wish we were able to make a choice of whether or not we want to use sense.. that would be ideal.

  • virexed

    I love me some sense features but this is killing ICS. Like a bad band covering your favorite song. Comon man!

  • zyphbear

    I am a little sad that they did so much to ICS to make it “fit” into the old Sense instead of going the other way around. You can tell a few of the changes in ICS, but I think it’s changing ICS too much. Keep the Skins simpler, like the lock screen and some widgets. Take the opportunity to redesign some of Sense to fit more into ICS.

  • Zach

    I’m glad it leaked! It allows for all sorts to happen HTC devices custom rom and modding-wise. Especially with AOSP ICS roms because a lot of functionality missing ( such as hw accel or camera use) could now possibly be added!

  • robkoehler

    Running it right now and it’s no worse than the 2.08 leaked builds imo. I could care less about the gallery/wallpaper bug. Not the quickest, but you get some of the ICS goodness in features that do work *cough-camera-speach-text-input

  • Dan13

    That background…it reminds me of a lollipop. It doesn’t fit android at all. Even if it is in it’s early stages this HTC Sense is not on my list of skins I like. ICS was beautiful, why would they change it, WHY!

  • Taylor Wimberly

    Alberto is back!

  • jenskristian

    For HTC owners sake, I hope HTC will make some good changes to the Sense UI before the release. Or just drop the whole Sense thing.

    • vitriolix

      “just drop the whole Sense thing” <— THIS

    • Jennifer

      As an HTC owner I played with ICS on the nexus at the store and I happen to prefer my sense 3.5 on my Rezound much more. I like some of the functions that were add to ics (which most likely will be on the new sense, that usually happens) But I like the look and feel of sense. And if I get bored with that there is always launchers to use to change things up. I love the lockscreen on my phone especially and is the main reason why I am not sure if I am even going to play on roms with this once they get it rooted permanently. I think Sense is well done and maybe a few changes could be warranted but I honestly didn’t really care for the ICS look.

      I really wish people wouldn’t speak for all HTC owners like this or say they are sorry for them. Seriously if you don’t like sense and you know HTC puts it on ALL their phones, then either don’t buy an HTC phone or use a launcher or root. You have options people. Quite whining about not being able to take it off or that they put it on there. There is a reason why people buy their phones, one being hardware, the other being the software which will and always will include sense. Get over it. Not trying to be rude but its really annoying when I read these articles and all I hear is the whining.

      Thanks for the info though Android and Me. Can’t wait to see how quickly and how nice this looks when its ready. :)

      • Doug

        Jennifer, I could not agree with you more. If you want a phone that is locked go get an iPhone. That is why we get Android powered phones so we have the OPTIONS to run the rom that we see fit for our needs. Just because they are integrating sense into the “Official” release does not mean that you can not root your phone, and get get any rom you like whether it be with, or without sense. Android = Open source, hence why we do not pray to the Apple god.

  • cxandroid

    Oh Geeze, couldn’t they work some ICS into sense. ICS just looks so very right.

    At least provide a choice.

  • dekadans

    The language seen on the screenshots is Swedish if anyone wonders.

  • Nate B.

    I think Sense fell off a long time ago

  • Finn Kempers

    I can see this being the landmark of user-friendly and capable UI’s out there, I might get this until the arrival of Miui v4 :D

  • securifirm

    Not sure I’m really liking the look of Sense any more. Ruined the look of ICS

  • jamal adam

    After seeing ICS, I have lost any taste for sense, touchwiz, etc that I previously had.

  • Billy

    meh … although well loved by many, I have never really liked Sense. This is especially true after using ICS for a few days now. (here come my down rankings).

    • TruFactz

      Boooooooo! lmfao

  • Marcus

    I honestly don’t like custom overlays. HTC Sense makes it look like it isn’t even ICS.

  • romy134

    Im sure they are reading these comments as we speak… Hopefully, and making some changes. I love HTC but a diffrent look would be nice.

  • honourbound68

    I hope XDA can make ICS for the HTC View :)

  • TruFactz

    Sense is nice, I just wish that we had a choice of having a skin or not. Now i have to accept the fact that my Sensation will be…….THAT.

  • Nathan D.

    yea, no, sense is not for me

  • Nick

    Saw ICS yesterday on my friend’s Nexus S, its beautiful… for once android looks awesome, and this guys take it and ruin it.

  • ArticulateFool

    Why fix something that isn’t broken?

    ICS is much more beautiful as is. :-(

  • vitriolix

    So you take the premier, absolutely best looking, most forward looking OS on the market and slap a bunch of crappy skins from 2009 on it and we are supposed to celebrate?

  • Charlesbrown79

    If I had to chose a skin instead of a pure adroid experience, Sense 3.5 would be it. I tend to find it more user friendly and productive. We all have a choice. If you buy a phone with Sense and don’t like it, unlock it and flash a ROM. I won’t disagree that ICS is very clean looking and the fuctionabilty smashes the competition, but not everyone is looking for that. Choices are always good.

  • brixred

    I don’t know why all the hype over the Launcher when you can go grab so many different ones from the market.

    I’ve always disliked the Sense interface…. I’ve always opted to use ADW and more recently Zeam. I find Zeam to be even more stable than ADW… if you can imagine that!!

  • Ironzey Lewis

    OK, OK you guys win. I was all set to sit here and justify HTC’s sense but it looks too much like Sense 3.

    In the past I was a fan of Sense, where Gingerbread seems empty and barren Sense felt warm and ready to go. I remember spending around an hour setting up things the way I wanted with Gingerbread with Sense it took a lot less time until I was up and running with the phone set up the way I wanted.

    I’m disappointed, with a big visual update like Android 4 Sense should have done the same and changed THE FEEL of sense. Maybe HTC felt the change from 2.3 to 4 was too big and decided not to confuse people by turning everything upside down.

    One criticism of ICS is that it seems to lack continuity, where is the menu button? How do I search for something in an app? Hopefully, Some of these inconsistencies will be addressed by sense.

    I do like the folders on the lockscreen. I’m not sure how useful it’ll be but it is cool.

  • Toonshorty

    I can’t help but think that sense is actually rather ugly.

    It was certainly the best looking back in the Froyo era, but since Gingerbread I’ve always thought stock looked nicer. The gap has just got bigger since ICS.

    The stock ICS is near enough perfect, why are HTC trying to fix it? Never heard of the expression don’t fix what isn’t broken.

  • ramenchef

    Yet another manufacturer slaughters ICS when ICS is great all on its own.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Yes HTC has some work to do still
    They can do it as time passes but meanwhile stock is the move and on the galaxy nexus it’s BOSS…

  • Jimmy13

    The only thing I did is the cool lock screen. other than that I like to do the customization.

  • Jimneezy

    I think this is the only time I actually want Apple to stop HTC from bringing out an Android device if they are going to butcher ICS like that

  • vid500

    Love the sense on my HTC, but for ICS they could updated and redesigned it. But otherwise I find it really useful.

  • Martjn2

    custom skins destroy all the beuty in ICS, just make stock android phones pleeeeeasee!!!

  • jaymzie

    Looking forward to seeing this on new phones in the coming year,
    I know there is always a lot of whining about manufacturer skins ruining the android experience but if you really want the stock experience to use your phone as a power user you’ll most likely be running a custom mod like cyanogen anyway

  • Oscar Ortega

    Whats the difference between sense when it came out and now?

  • Dennis Petrospour

    I hate sense so much but I want ICS. So I am running this untill CM9 is out

  • juliusaugustus

    What’s with all of the hate. You can remove HTC Sense very easily. I love HTC Sense. People need to understand Android is an embedded software framework and that most people don’t know what Android is and don’t even know that there devices run on it. People view the Software experience offered by OEMs not as a representation of Android but a representation of the OEM’s product, so if they don’t like the product then they buy from someone else. The general consensus is that people like HTC Phones and the experience that they offer. Android isn’t a software product like say Windows Phone 7 is and it isn’t a piece of hardware like an iPhone or Blackberry is. The closest thing you can compare Android to is Windows Ce.

  • ndub21

    Stock ICS FTW!!!

  • Ilyse Rose

    I like Sense out of all the skins but I wish that they weren’t able to skin Android as much as everyone insists on doing. It kind of ruins the magic and causes unnecessary fragmentation.

  • Varemenos

    Not bad actually but still id rather feel the stock ICS than Sense

  • Oskar Wismierski

    Just like samsung’s TW. the new sense looks just like gingerbread.. besides the new launcher icons;/

    If you gonna make it look like Gingerbread then WHAT’s THE POINT -.-

  • eyesparky

    That clock and wallpaper combo is looking so tired and dated. HTC need to get over it and move on. Many of the things that made Sense make sense for a while in terms of deficiencies in the underlying OS are no longer there and have not been for quite some time. It really is about time they moved with the times.

  • donger

    stock ics ftw.

  • ijonb

    I don’t see how that improves the stock interface?

  • VS

    Man, I’m torn. I really like the Sense Widgets and the overall feel to the UI, but I am really hoping for ICS with Sense flavoring vs the other way around. I think ICS should be the star of the show, with Sense augmenting the best of the OS, instead of being relegated to a back seat passenger.

    It’d be nice if they released several Sense options for their customers to review and put it to a vote. Then, if everyone still wanted Sense w/ ICS flavoring vs something different, then I could live with it (and prob have a reason to root my Amaze 4G).

    • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

      i agree i love the Facebook integration with HTC Sense, and the widgets but ICS is the real start, and HTC is making Sense the star. I have VU 2.39 installed on my mytouch 4g b/c of the widgets, and etc

  • David Sumner

    i don’t think i like this…. The dock reminds me of the MySense Experience ( espresso) found of the htc mytouch devices… and personally i hated that. they should either stick with the stock sense launcher or switch to the stock ICS launcher. And honestly i wish they would give you a choice to turn the sense launcher on or off and still keep the widgets. Actually Sense Widgets on Stock ICS would be awesome!!!

    I guessing because this was leaked they are probably expecting to start rolling this update out in early 2012….? Possibly January…..

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    Looks nothing like ICS -_- we should have the choice on getting a phone with sense or not.

  • falltime

    ICS is absolutely the worst android phone update ever. Just because it is “pure” android doesnt make it good.

    The app drawer/widget layout is asinine;

    the lack of permanent settings button is stupid, and to replace it with a recently use app button boarders on restarted (was holding home so difficult???).

    And then the recently used app scroll OMG it was horrible on a tablet, on the limited space of a phone…it is god awful.

    The ICS camera app sucks (it has about 4 settings and you cant even shut off the god damn shutter sound).

    So yeah – in theory pure android is great – but considering how ill conceived ICS is, Sense makes more sense than ever.

    • David Sumner

      This is one of the most honest comments I read today lol though I agree with some of what you said.I still am anxiously waiting for ICS. I think sense itself needs a overhaul, that will better complement ics.

    • kungpaodragon

      I’m fine with the app drawer layout. Different from pre-Honeycomb, but nothing you can’t get used to. Maybe too big of a leap for some??

      You can easily place a settings shortcut on the desktop if you don’t prefer to access it from the pull-down (which is just like having it at the bottom popup from before). So now users actually have more options for how they’d like to access the settings. In addition, you can even have shortcuts of a particular setting like “Data Usage” or “Battery Usage”. I really like that.

      The recently used app design is great. Instead of 6 or 8, now you can go back even further. I do wish they have a user setting that you can say, keep up to 6 or 8 or whatever. 20 is a little impractical. One of the reason they did this is so you can kill an activity by just swiping it out of the recent app list. Knowing that feature helps understand why it’s designed that way. Knowing how to use it helps appreciate it.

      You can easily turn off shutter sound by turning down the volume. You could argue you’d want a setting for the camera, but I would argue that’s confusing and it’s better to have master volume setting. Not a lot of settings to play with, but dude, it’s stock. It’s Android. Embrace the 3rd party apps. ICS provides a solid playground for the developers to come up with solid apps.

      Personally I like what I see. That’s just me.

      • falltime

        The app drawer is terrible you can’t scroll, you have to swipe drawer by drawer. If you have a decent number of apps getting to the ones on the bottom takes a ridiculous amount of swipes.
        Same thing for the widget drawer. It is an awkward tab which seems like a swipe but isn’t and then again you can’t scroll and then due to the terrible preview you get only a few Widgets fit in each drawer. Getting through the list takes forever and then you have to drag it onto the screen. Frankly the old way of holding the spot where you wanted the widget was more intuitive.

        The recently used app tray is also lousy. Besides taking a whole buttob . The screenshots’ are inconsistent so it really doesn’t tell you what the app is so you rely on the app name anyway and again since so much screen real estate is taken up, far too many swipes are required. The old way of holding home was convenient and clear since you are already familiar with the app icon since you had to tap it to start the app in the 1st place( if icons are good enough for the app drawer why do you need a different visual at this point?) And if you wanted swipe to end you could easily added that to the original recently run app screen….you’d just swipe the icon like in webos.
        Finally you cant be serious…you expect the user to lower the master volume (which controls the ringer top) to simply turn off the annoying and completely fake shutter sound…that’s just silly.
        I do agree that developers are free to offer all the customization you want….which is why sense is OK by me. I have yet to find a UI app that doesn’t work on sense the same as vanilla Android. But you have to realize that a huge % of people will never customize and HTC doesn’t want the hating the phone because Google made big mistakes.
        Based on my ICS experience , sense is more important than ever to improving the “stock” phone experience.
        Trust me, I wish it wasn’t true.

  • Wayne Winkler

    I know this is very early alpha build but come on I was hoping we’d see something new out of sense. Glad I went vanilla with the nexus.

  • MvP

    I would love to see HTC, Moto, LG offer at least one pure android phone a year. Have it be approved by Google and give it the Nexus name followed by whatever they come up with.

  • humidity

    Is there anything XDA can’t do!?

    • David Sumner

      Depends what you mean by that. But yeah you will see cooked roms based off of this and the CM9 version… Your best bet if you don’t like this or sense in general over ics, just wait for CM9.

  • kungpaodragon

    That looks like crap compare to stock ICS… IMHO.

  • Jeremiah Akin

    I’ve never been a sense hate. I like stock better though. If HTC wants to keep sense relevant they will need to prove something other than screen rotation animations and widgets.

  • the5thdimension

    Never really been a fan of HTC Sense. The only thing I really like about it is the weather animations. They can keep all the rest. From what I’ve seen so far, ICS is a beautiful version of Android. Something that should definitely be kept stock. Any UI thrown on top of ICS will just take so much away from the flavor of the OS.

  • Kent Burton

    This still looks like a 2.x version of android … i think the skins are a bad move.

  • Numbertwo

    Noooooo! Why must you desecrate ics!!!

  • Shawn Clark

    Patiently waitin for ICS on my EVO 3D!!

  • staryoshi

    I am not particularly enthused about Touch Wiz or Sense being packaged alongside ICS, personally. It would be nice if we had the option to disable these overlays and enjoy a stock experience without rooting… As long as we can still enjoy the benefits that ICS brings, it won’t be too bad though.

  • Antonio

    I don’t understand people complaining that HTC is not using stock ICS instead of Sense. HTC would simply loose identity without Sense! If you don’t like it don’t buy HTC’s phones!
    For me ICS is as ugly and boring as previous Android versions. Even worse, It became more gloomy.

  • honourbound68

    i would welcome a sense ui on my evo view if it’d get an ics update :) i gotta say too that i’m very happy it got updated to hc

  • Mimikr

    There is also an Ice Cream Sandwich release for HTC Sensation without the Sense and in my opinion is much better and makes my phone look and run like new again.

    [ROM][ICS][BETA][01/08/12] Virtuous Inquisition v2.0.0 :: Senseless ICS (4.0.3)