HTC is about to unleash its biggest update to Sense since its introduction in 2009. According to User Experience Director, Drew Bamford, after extensive consumer the company discovered several important user patterns that influenced its design choices in Sense 5.
First, most people don’t use widgets; they tend to leave those pre-installed in place, and fewer than 10% of users install new ones, even when the app advertises their presence. Next, most people don’t differentiate between widgets and apps (which is likely why widgets aren’t used — they’d rather get the full functionality of the app). Lastly, and this one I’ll quote directly, “Most of you don’t modify your home screens much. In fact, after the first month of use, approximately 80% of you don’t change your home screens any more.”
I’ve seen this behaviour myself: many friends who have purchased a new Galaxy S III or One X don’t even remove the stock icons from their home screens, never mind alter the placement of widgets. They tend to use the app drawer, time and time again, to access familiar apps. I’m not saying this applies to everyone, but certainly a good cross-section of the Android community.
Sense 5 was designed to be usable out of the box, and to be accessible to smartphone novices in ways that iOS is considered simple to master. Bamford also figured that legacy ways of communicating with our home screens — icons on a grid — are antiquated. Instead, BlinkFeed focuses on providing users with quick-access content, from Twitter, Facebook and the web, that can be glanced over or ignored at will. The regular home screen experience is still there, but it’s no longer front and centre.
He also touches on peoples’ tendencies to “huddle around the phone to hear music or videos,” which inspired BoomSound. The dual user-facing speakers on the front are not only louder but prevent distortion at higher volumes. Same goes for the dual microphones, which we hope stay true to their word.
Lastly, Bamford touches on the camera experience, centred around Ultrapixels and Zoe. While we know that the One takes great photos, it has yet to be seen whether it in fact takes better photos than the leading smartphones on the market.
The HTC One is already up for pre-order at Rogers, and should be available on Rogers, Bell, Virgin and TELUS by the end of March.