As Troy mentioned in last week’s show, the Ubuntu phone has been announced. There have been a few alternative operating systems announced such as the Firefox OS and Jolla. But none have really been delivered yet. Why is this?
After 2 years of faithfully using my Galaxy Nexus phone I have finally upgraded to the Verizon Galaxy Note 3. Verizon was the last of the big 4 to get the Note 3 released but in the few days I have been using it, I will say it is a big deal. No, literally it is a big phone. But once you get over the size of the device is it any good?
My family has been with T-Mobile since 2009 but I had used a T-Mobile phone for several years prior to that through the company I worked for. I had gotten such a good deal I had even convinced my wife’s company to switch over. At one point they had about 75 lines from my recommendations and referrals. I loved T-Mobile. The support was great and the phones and coverage were decent. They were willing to work with you to get you the best coverage and newest devices they could.
Listening to the keynote for Google I/O last week, I found a few of the new features mentioned very interesting. Even more interesting might be what wasn’t mentioned. We did not get Key Lime Pie or Kettle Corn or any new operating system. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I think the hardware manufacturers need some time to catch up and let’s face it, Jelly Bean is pretty good for now.
I have always wanted to own an Android device from HTC. I know many people who have the MyTouch 4G and I have been impressed with the build quality and durability. HTC was the first to launch an Android device (G1), and for that, they get the tip of the cap.
To give you a brief history of my experience with Android, I began my journey with the Motorola Cliq running 1.5 Cupcake. I soon learned how to root and flash custom ROMs just in time to move up to the beautiful Samsung Vibrant. As soon as Ice Cream Sandwich launched and a custom ROM for the Vibrant was available, it was flashed to my phone. The last ROM to run on the tried and true Vibrant was CyanogenMod 10 Jellybean.
Then I finally moved up to the HTC One S, the middle child of the One series. While not as beefy as the One X in screen resolution and processing power, the One S is still a heavy hitter with its dual core processor and HD Super Amoled screen. I was thrilled to finally take advantage of 4G speeds and dual core processing, and the phone was lightening fast. HTC built a quality device that was rock solid and reliable.
The downfall, however, is HTC’s over-customization with their Sense user-interface. Ice Cream Sandwich introduced a new user interface to Android that was dark and simplistic. Compared to the colorful and often times mis-matched interface of Gingerbread and earlier, the new black and blue Holo theme was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Then HTC goes in and screws it all up. Gone are the rich darks and brilliant blues, and enter the same old white backgrounds and mis-matched color schemes. The one bizaar feature that I found to be pointless is the accordion movement of the settings screen. Instead of the new Android over-scroll flare effect, HTC swapped it out in favor of separating panels. When you reach the bottom of the pane, the items separate into an accordion-style movement. It is kind of neat to play with at first, but I found it to become bothersome and irritating after a short while. It is a resounding example of useless code from the manufacturer bogging down Android.
I really like the stock dialer function introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich; big, light blue, easy to read numbers with no distractions on a dark background. Then, you swipe right for call history, then right once more for your favorites.
HTC, however felt the need to add a lot of clutter to the interface. On the dialer screen, you have smaller numbers, call history, and a bunch of other buttons and options that make the interface overly busy. Swiping to the right will yield more call history, and swiping right again presents the Google groups listing. It is worth noting that with two more taps, I can pull up my favorites, but when it was previously presented automatically, the two extra taps are unforgivable.
HTC did include a Speed Dial function, but it is difficult to set up and very inconvenient to change around. For example, once you have your speed dial entries set, if you want to add a new contact to the top of the list, you cannot simply drag and drop a new name to the top. You have to delete and re-enter all of your Speed Dial entries to make room for the new entry. This is a very poor design and there is no excuse for this sort of limitation.
The only real value add I find within HTC Sense is the unlock screen. The ability to quickly launch an application right from the lock screen is helpful. However, apps such as Widget Locker easily duplicate this functionality, and even offer better options for customizing the lock screen.
HTC does a nice job of trying to offer users many options and choices to customize their device. However, for someone like me who wants a clean, minimal stock experience, the Sense user interface is far too cluttered and busy. It would be nice if HTC or any other manufacturer offered the option of using the stock Holo interface.
In the end, I ended up rooting the One S and flashing CyanogenMod 10. With the power of the dual core processor, HD screen, and semi-stock experience of CM 10, I can finally say that I have grown to love the One S.