I’ve been an Android user for quite some time; my first handset was the HTC Hero (G2 for you non-brits). As each handset reaches its end of life (or basically when the vendor realises they’re around 10 releases behind and can’t be bothered to fork it to add their logo – ORANGE!) I root it, head over to XDA Forum and see what the latest Cyanogen Mod looks like, or another home skin for Android.
HTC Sense, to date I have to say is my favourite. It has some rather tacky and old fashioned UI elements sure, but there are also some nice touches, which until having a phone running a vanilla ROM I didn’t know was part of Sense. For example, if you connect all your social networks using Sense’s address book it pulls in avatars for everyone that has a connected account. It also improves your connectivity with any individual by creating the associations with said accounts meaning you can call, text, mail, tweet, chat your friends using whichever coms channel you like. Wicked.
This week Facebook in conjunction with HTC the release of a new handset; the oddly titled One, the first ‘facebook’ phone.
What it actually is, is another version of Sense with a custom home screen and a few other bobbins paid for by Facebook. The marketing fluff on facebookhome.com shows incredibly professional, posed and composed images throughout and here is where the entire thing will become a massive fail.
Take yourself down to to the section on the home screen where you are presented with a design comp showing the handset beaming the lock screen. A Slideshow let’s us Matt Shaemus’s pic of Meghan Concra from behind in a canoe, perfectly lit, perfectly posed, amazingly fitting the screen size – they’re having a great time. Nicholas Arrol has finally paid off his student loan and some dude is getting licked by his dog.
Apart from the fact that this opens a wider debate about the fact that this private statement to their friend is now being broadcast to anyone in visible range of his phone there is a far greater reality being ignore – most of my friends take endless photos of their dogs, their dinner or their friends, drunk and not looking their best. The truth of the home screen is, you’ll turn it off because how is that going to look when I pull my phone out of my pocket in a business meeting only for everyone to see joe wearing his girlfriends dress throwing up in a bush? More to the point, I don’t want to see it!
There is also the fact that adverts will appear on your phone UI. Now, before someone jumps down my throat, no, there was no mention of adverts during the press launch, but you bet your bottom dollar there will be ads getting in there somehow.
What frustrates me more is that Facebook have done something on Android which bedroom coders have been doing since the beginning. Most of the ROMS available today have some aspect of contact interactions being surfaced higher in the UI, even Sense itself does it by default so really what’s the point? There is also the fact that the ROM/Widget(s) aren’t going to be available on all android devices, which sort of defies the point of doing something on android in the first place.