Jan 26 AT 3:56 PM Nick Gray 50 Comments

HTC Sense 4.0 hands-on report reveals new features for HTC’s custom UI


We’re still about 30 days out from Mobile World Congress and the unveiling of HTC’s new Android lineup, but the guys over at PocketNow claim to have already gotten a sneak peek at a non-final build of HTC Sense 4.0 which will be running on top of Android 4.0 for the HTC Ville and Supreme. If you think that custom skins are too intrusive, we’re sure you’ll be pleased to hear that HTC Sense 4.0 is a “step in the right direction.”

Since no images of Sense 4.0 are currently available, we can’t tell you if the UI looks much different than current iterations. Here are some of the highlights of the improvements featured in HTC Sense 4.0:

  • Landscape support for the home screen
  • Bubbly sliders have been replaced with squared buttons
  • Sense buttons now feature descriptive text which accompanies the button icon
  • Lock screen will be able to display task or to-do lists, favorite contacts for quick dialing and direct access to notification bar
  • Updated email client with threaded messages and improved layout
  • Smart Sync technology which syncs your email based on your usage habits
  • Reader feature in browser strips away ads and other useless web clutter
  • Read/Watch Later feature in browser saves content in a widget which can be accessed at a later time (even offline)
  • Guest Mode Scene disables phone functionality and access to personal data
  • Beats Audio profile updated to work with third party applications
  • Full DropBox integration with 50GB of free cloud storage

As we’ve already seen from a few different leaked images, HTC phones will not have on-screen buttons like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Instead, HTC will be reducing its configuration of four capacitive buttons down to three buttons which matches the ICS on-screen layout.

Honestly, we can’t wait to get our hands on HTC Sense 4.0 and HTC’s new hardware. Google has done a great job of introducing new features and UI elements in Android 4.0 and we’re hoping that HTC’s latest skin will build off of them while adding additional functionality for the user.

If you want to read more about the new features included in HTC Sense 4.0, we’d suggest you head on over to PocketNow and read about their hands-on experience. Now that people are getting to spend some quality time with HTC’s new software, it’s only a matter of time before images and videos of the new UI hit the web.

Are you excited for HTC Sense 4.0?

Source: PocketNow

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

    “Are you excited for HTC Sense 4.0?”

    No, dammit. #keepandroidpure

    • ags29

      The ICS versions of Sense that leaked recently for the HTC Sensation are really nice, so I don’t know about bashing it this time. I think this time they will finally get it right. I’m excited for Sense 4.0.

      • delinear

        I’m interested to see what they do – 2.* was better with Sense IMO, but they will need to do something impressive to be better than vanilla 4. Hopefully they will keep it minimal.

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

          Well, I want to be able to see it for myself. HTC will never stop delivering Sense on their phones. I would LOVE to be able to use the default launcher too. It is too difficult to take Sense out of the phone without losing core functionality. I hope they’ll release it in time and at least for phones launched last year.

    • Olivia de la Cruz

      I sure as hell am! couldnt give a rats ass about GN or ICS!! bring on the 4.0 and I’m sure as hell not talking about ICS variety, I h8 pure android… its str8 up and down fulgy

      • benben

        With ICS there’s not much (read: nothing) to hate on. If you really hate vanilla Android and don’t care for Galaxy Nexus then why would you care to even comment here?

    • EspadaA

      Not at all I never liked htc sense. And since ics came out I really don’t see any. Need for it to be around, I just wished they. Would add their features but didn’t change the ui.

  • steve19137

    I really like the idea of removing the on screen buttons in favor of capacitive buttons of the same kind. Not my first thought, but a good one. I’m excited to see how these phones will look, in addition to Sense 4.

  • Gabe

    Not really into sense UI, but I do like the guest mode feature, cuz I know all my friends like to creep thru my pics, messages, emails, and post random stupid statuses on my facebook!!

  • Gunnar Lium

    HTC actually did a pretty good job of making Android a lot nicer and better back when 2.1 was the latest and greatest (which was not that great designwise).

    If their focus is on making 4.0 better, and not just “Sensier”, this could be good. I’m hoping for the former, but half expecting the latter.

  • URABUS0924

    Why does it seem like no phone manufacturers are following in Google’s footsteps in making phones have no physical/capacitive buttons? I can’t think of a single rumored phone coming out this year that is going to be button free like the Galaxy Nexus. I hope there will be at least some phones like that.

  • bellken

    I like the guest mode feature. I look forward to getting this with ICS on my rezound.

  • Slith

    I have grown from hating Sense to not minding Sense as much.

  • redraider133

    At least they expanded beats to work with other applications. I hope it won’t bog down the phones though hopefully they can add this while making sense overall light and less of a resource hog.

    • virexed

      Doesn’t pure ICS has built in EQ. Hopefully beats is just a preset option.

  • Cameron

    So, I have been following all of this talk and great things to come at MWC, and am very excited, especially since I am looking forward to switching from a iphone to a android platform… What is the typical release time of new devices after they are shown at MWC?

    I am ready to buy now… I don’t know if I can wait till Q3 or Q4…..If it will be that long, I will purchase either a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, or the HTC Rezound in the next couple days…. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, and sorry if this is not the correct spot for this question :-(

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      Phones unveiled at Mobile World Congress typically launch in Europe around April. Most US bound phones to not get unveiled until CTIA in the Spring with launch dates of late Q2. If you’re in the market for a phone right now, go ahead and buy what’s currently on the market. The Galaxy Nexus or Rezound will be the best options for at least 3-4 months on Verizon.

    • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

      Can’t go wrong with the Nexus. It’s still fresh and you’ll have pure Google.

    • Lucas

      I have the Galaxy Nexus and I couldn’t be happier!
      (Previously owned: Nexus One, HTC Sensation)

  • SGB101

    i like pure, but sense is good to. i like the idea of a guest mode (or toddler mode) and Dropbox with 50GB, Hell yessss!!!!!

  • kwills88

    I think manufactures should make their UI a stand alone app in the market like go launcher, adw launcher etc. make us have an option to choose to use it if we want.

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      Sense is a lot more than a launcher and widgets, It’s a complete customization of the UI that encompasses the browser, dialer, lock screen, contacts, email app, custom settings and a whole lot more.

      Yes, you can hide things by loading up an alternate launcher and contact app from the market, but the integration is way to deep to make the applications stand on their own as add-on apps.

      • kwills88

        I am aware, just saying we should just have an option on whether or not we wanna use it and they can just have them available for us to download and use instead of making it an obligation.

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000953902834&ref=tn_tnmn Cesar Ruiz

    Htc sense fuck yeah. Hope is on htc evo 3d with the ics update

    • AnthonyRyan

      same here i can’t wait for ics on the T-Mobile Sensation and how sense 4.0 will look and differ from sense 3.0

    • Tom Secreto

      I agree. Just went from the HTC EVO 4G to the 3D and I just keep loving HTC and Sense 3.0 is just so great. The thought of not having Sense 4.0 on the update to ICS is just not cool.
      I can’t see why anyone would want to remove it or not have the Sense UI it’s simply the best out there in my opinion and I have seen them all being in IT for 30 years and still always on the bleeding edge.
      Keep up the great work HTC and you will keep rising to the top.

  • delinear

    “Landscape support for the home screen”

    I can’t understand why this is missing from stock ICS, it would be so useful, especially with the desktop docks that hold the phone in landscape making them a pain to use while docked.

  • Thegm

    If it goes with 3 capacitive buttons instead of onscreen buttons what happens when a legacy app needs the menu button.

    • Daniel

      Exactly. That tidbit can’t be true, at least not this simply.

    • mattcoz

      That was my first thought as well.

    • Baller

      That’s a good point, if you have no hardware buttons a legacy app gets the overflow icon that appears with the onscreen software buttons. If you have a menu button in an updated app, the overflow options appear under the menu button… But if you don’t have on screen buttons, you don’t have an action bar because the app hasn’t been updated AND you don’t have a hardware menu button, where do menu options go?

  • Prime

    The only problem i have with it its the reducing of the amount of capacitive buttons down to three buttons! But everything else im a huge fan of sense!

  • spazby

    Please give us an option to turn off the skin

  • Daniel

    I can’t see how they want to have the same button layout as the GN but not onscreen. I guess they’ll drop the multitasking button in favor of the good old menu button which also means: no overflow (onscreen menu) button for Sense users. This is about as dumb as it can get.

  • Mr. Green

    Thanks HTC for providing us of how much new sense will sucks, it doesn’t make sense (pun intended!)!

    And why continuing with capacitive buttons? On-screen buttons are the future.

    I’ll just wait for RRP drop on the Galaxy Nexus and buys it, should be in march 2012, by then I’ll see how new HTC will fare against it.

    • Mr. Green

      Bloody negs!

      Forgot to mention I am a big HTC fan and love their hardware and sense, but disappointed by the new changes, not as radical a I hoped,

      I could end up buying a new HTC if any those announced at MWC interests me, otherwise Galaxy Nexus here I come!

    • Erik N

      The problem with on-screen buttons is that HTC and other manufacturers have to invest cash for larger screen to display those buttons. Users only benefit from the extra space then they are in applications which use the entire screen. Yes, it’s a little nicer when you watch a video or play a game, but 90% of the time it’s completely useless.

      It’s nice to have the option of on-screen buttons, but I’m actually a huge fan of physical buttons below the screen. I love clicky things!

      • tarwinia

        Actually the rezound and sensation and other HTC phones have a 16:9 aspect ratio, same as the nexus. So I don’t think it’s price based.

        • DROID Sam

          But think about that for a second. If you take a 4.3 inch display and use the bottom portion for buttons you effectively get less usable space out of your screen. Who wants that? I don’t want screen space to be used for buttons. I want screen space to display things.

      • Mr. Green

        On-screen buttons look nicer as well,

        also HTC mid 2010 and onward is using capacitive buttons on their phones, not as “clicky” as you hoped,

        Again, we’ll see what HTC announce in MWC 2012.

  • JoePa

    Sense on the Amaze is AWESOME! Can’t wait to get ICS with Sense 4.0!

  • tarwinia

    I am looking ofrward to this.

    As for those who bash the capacitive buttons I just have to say I personally prefer them and for two reasons:

    1. When an app stops responding and screen presses won’t give results the capacitive buttons, in my experience, continue to work (albeit slowly). This is very useful when the browser deals with a troublesome page, a video player app struggles with a troublesome file, or you try an app which turns out to ve incompatible with your device. I am quite sure that if the screen presses become unresponsive that this will include the onscreen buttons. And I personally prefer the capacitive buttons to having to pull out the battery to reset the device.

    2: Quite simply, screen real estate. If the screen is the same aspect ratio (and resolution too in general) , then having physical capacitive buttons means that you have more space onscreen for the actual app/content.

    • Daniel

      Capacitive buttons (as opposed to physical buttons) use the same capacitive layer as the screen. If your touchscreen actually malfunctions or the whole system events listener freezes (as opposed to just a frozen app), the capacitive buttons WILL also stop responding. If in a certain situation the capacitive buttons can still respond, a virtual button could do the exact same.

      Really, virtual buttons are almost the same thing as capacitive buttons. One has plastic and paint behind it, the other has LCD. But the hardware sensors that detect presses are the exact same.

      Also, there’s still the power button. If an emergency action needs to be bound to something detached from the screen, that’s the place.

      • tarwinia

        I know theoretically they are the same. But from experience it doesn’t act like that. If it’s just the app freezing then the notifications bar should work, and in some cases it does. But there are situations where this isn’t the case and no in screen presses will work, yet the capacitive buttons still do. I never said the screen malfunctions, I said it stops reacting, and when I say screen I am technically referring to the display area, not the capacitive layer in the glass.

        Also, if the app is the one that has gone wonky then there is a greater chance of it affecting the virtual buttons as they are more closely integrated into the apps (and are supposedly customizable).

        So far the power button only helps in the sense that it offers the possibility of a full reset, and I like to avoid those when possible.

  • Shawn Clark

    This ICS update is gonna be badass for any of these flagship HTC devices. HTC is definitely making a lot of changes that are worth the touch up.

  • lokidokie

    Again… Booo!
    Vanilla ftw

    • Erik N

      If you want vanilla go buy a Nexus and stop complaining!

  • Erik N

    I’m torn. I love the new look of ICS, but I’ve always enjoyed HTC Sense. It’s been a bit too bloated lately, so I’m hoping HTC will scale things back a bit and bring in some of the UI elements from stock Android. I guess the main thing I want gone is the glossy bubble look that HTC puts on everything. Make the graphics flat with clean edges and I’ll be very happy.

  • Steve

    Google makes including the Holo theme a requirement for access to the market on all 4.0 devices. HTC Has different themes for Sense and there are many more available online. How long do you think it will take before we see Holo Sense?