Sense 4.0, is it really that “intrusive”?

Posted Apr 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm in Threads > Opinions

Let me start off by saying I’ve liked Android in both stock and Sense flavors without real favor for either. As I’ve stated many times on Android and Me, I will be making the HTC One X(L) my next Android phone. That being said, after reading just about EVERY review out there to be read, one thing keeps standing out, the polarity of the opinions of Sense. Many claim that 4.0 is really cleaner and leaner than 3.0 (like Myriam Joire from Engadget) while other still claim that Sense is still too “much” (such as Chris Zeigler from The Verge).

Now I understand that looks are purely subjective so I’ll try to look at this from a more functionally objective point of view. My criteria would probably be speed and accessibility (how many times you need to drill in a menu to do something for example).

This leads me to a video I recently viewed by Brandon Miniman of PocketNow.com on “How to Fix Sense”

This seems to be a summary of why many people seem to dislike sense from a functionality point of view. This leads me to my question, is HTC Sense 4.0 really that intrusive? I didn’t think so and after this video I am sure of it.

If you look at the enumerated complaints about Sense’s inherent “problems”, when I really think about it they aren’t really problems.

The first one is that of how folder are handled. The + is a useful function it actually cuts down on steps and increases functionality in many cases. I know most people will just drag an app on over another to make folder and that is still in place. But consider this scenario, you’re looking at your folder and realize a number of app would go well in this folder but are not on your homescreen. To add each one of them you need to open your launcher, long press an app and drag each one from the launcher into the folder one by one whereas with sense you just check off the ones you want. This is a clear advantage to Sense in terms of accessibility.

The next complaint is about the way Sense 4.0 handles menus and more specifically end of menus. Now we know this has been a sticking point for Apple attacking Android manufacturers as they hold a patent for “showing the background after reaching the end of a list of menu entries”. So of course there is the stock Android way of doing a glow vs. Sense’s accordion effect. Now of course, one could say ohh it’s plain ugly but for the sake of objectivity that isn’t a reason. So Brandon goes on to say that the accordion is more “CPU intensive”, when in reality it’s not. I’m a finishing up my College Degree in Computer Science with a specialty in Game Design/Programming, so I’m pretty proficient with how renders work. I know for a fact that the accordion effect is in fact more CPU efficient than the glow effect in stock Android. The difference is the glow effect is a scaled image and has variations/calculations in opacity and height while the accordion effect is simply a calculation in Y coordinates.

Multitasking is the next “difference” in Sense vs Stock and here I understand it would be nice to see more apps at a time but you get to see more of the said each apps last state. I think personal prefer here is needed so I can’t see how someone can objectively say “ICS handles it better”. Also, I’d like to mention this is jsut about exactly how WebOS did multitasking and everyone talked about it how it was amazing.

The next complain and probably the most ridiculous that at 4:50 of the video Brandon says the app launcher of ICS preferred because it shows more apps when clearly BOTH SHOW 20 APPS! Nothing much to be said there.

Lastly he brings up the widgets, here I’ll agree that that is an accessibility advantage to ICS. But really, let’s be honest, did anyone really hate long pressing the homescreen to add widget? I’ll still concede ICS does widgets better but not by much.

In the end what does this mean to me? Reviewers don’t like sense and can’t come up with reasons why and state things like “too intrusive” and when they do tey to enumerate why there are problems with Sense the arguments fall flat on their faces.

I have no problem with a reviewer saying the prefer the looks of ICS but honestly I can’t see how anyone can knock of points to the One X because of Sense because that is a purely subjective matter.

Thanks for reading.
(PS. I’m not a Brandon Miniman hater, in fact I really like his stuff but this video was really bad IMO)

  • http://www.ganymede.tv WeakLemonDrink

    I have an odd relationship with Sense. My first smartphone was a Desire and I loved how it all looked and worked and to be honest at the time I wasn’t really aware of the various differences between manufacturers and stock Android. As soon as I had the chance to see stock working I realised how much I preferred it and all of a sudden all I could see in Sense was uglyness and bloat. Flashing a near-Vanilla Gingerbread ROM improved the phone (both looks-wise in my subjective point of view and performance) and now I don’t think I can ever own a phone that doesn’t give me the stock Android experience.

    But yes, you’re absolutely right that it’s pointless to shout about ‘facts’ why Sense is inferior when it’s almost all down to personal preference, especially since HTC are obviously working very hard to improve Sense based on customer feedback.

    • Taknarosh

      I think Sense 3.0 was really the iteration that hurt the Sense “branding” and while my time with said devices was good when I got to review them I can see how they could slowdown overtime.

      If anything the hate towards versions of Sense prior to 3.0 was mainly because, IMO, people had (and still have) this grandiose idea that having a stock Android Device meant getting Android updates first.

      THIS IS CLEARLY WRONG! We saw it when the OG EVO 4G beat the OG DROID to Froyo and more recently we saw it when the Vivid 4G (OF ALL PHONES!) beat out the G2X and Nexus S BOTH stock devices and one even being part of the revered Nexus line which itself is supposed to get updates first.

      With Sense 4.0 being almost unrelated in many ways to Sense 3.0 and lower, I really can’t see why anyone can objectively say Sense UI is worse without bringing in subjective points.

  • Mohannad

    Ok… well that was a very subjective, unprofessional and annoying video by Brandon Miniman

  • redraider133

    I actually like how sense 4 looks. HTC seems to be on the right track with lightening up sense while still keeping what many people have come to know. I am sure they will continue to tweak it to get it to perform the best on their devices but sense 4 is so much better than sense 3 from what I have saw so far.

  • mipd1980

    Vanilla Android is the way to go.

  • Nate B.

    That was a bad video in my opinion. It seemed personal rather then something that was general or WRONG. Like when he complained about the ‘+’ sign in the folder taking up space. That was better actually because then you can add all the apps to that specific folder at once rather then on ICS you have to find each app one at a time and drag it to that folder.

    The dragging your widget thing was another dumb point he was wrong on. HTC allows you to see all your home screens to see what you have room for while still looking for widgets etc. ICS you have to drag that app or widget to the screen you want it on or the one it can fit on, unless your already on that screen that has room.

    Its so many backfires to just about everything he said. Sense still seems cartoon like to me but much better then it has been in the past. I think Sense 4 is just fine. A couple of over extended animations but still it is progress. Its not as “fluffy” as he keeps saying it is in the video. I personally don’t like Pocketnow like that but its mobile tech in general so I watch and read what they have to say anyways along with the awesome Androidandme and etc.

    By the way, ICS on the Galaxy Nexus is lag as hell with that livewallpaper he had running with it. Trust me I know. I own that phone. Rooted and all. And if Sense needs fixing then root it my friend. I’m sure CM9 will be a beauty on the HTC One X ;)

  • Thomas Ho

    Great article to a very-biased video. I actually think ICS widget design is confusing. In All Apps, You can tap an app to launch it, but you tap on a widget and nothing happens. I also find that the widgets list in Sense 4 is a bit too long, but I think HTC Sense handles the home page selection much better, as clearly shown in the video.

  • oddball

    Sense 4.0 came out looking pretty good to me in this video. Honestly though with the disable feature in ICS does it really matter what the OEM’s decide to load on there. Most users who have an issue with sense are the same ones who will root and throw a completely different launcher on. While I far prefer vanilla this doesn’t seem like the old skins which were truly detrimental to the basic OS.

  • cwjones4

    Must have been a slow news day for them. While I did like seeing how sense was different from stock ICS, i could have definitely done without his commenting on how vastly superior stock ICS is. I think some of the extra functionality offered by sense (email, folder and widget menu) is actually pretty useful, although i would like to see more open apps in multitasking {it does look wonderful however}.

    HTC seems to be getting it. Hopefully this phone won’t bog down as it ages with sense the way other phones did (incredible, hero, etc). if sense bothers you that much or impairs functionality, ROOT it!

  • iHateiPhone

    ITS SO FLUFFY!!! seriously….he must love that word!

  • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

    I agree with Brandon. There are some areas where HTC should have not changed anything. Maybe I will have the opportunity to test it on my phone, I know it will receive ony Sense 3.6, like all the other phones. I would still call it Sense if it had only modified apps and the Sense widgets.

    • Taknarosh

      For what reason?
      Looks? Okay, that’s fair game.
      Functionality, speed, Accessibility? Common Sense performs just as fast has all the same function and sometime more and it just as fast.

      • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

        Sense is all about looks and functionality. That extra boost of speed may come in handy in apps like games.