Five things HTC’s Sense 6.0 does better than Android

April 8, 2014
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Stock Android is great. I’m a big fan, and am typically pretty critical of OEM overlays, eschewing them for Nexus at just about every turn. With the HTC One (M8), you’ll get Sense 6.0, which is HTC’s latest take on Android. One of the first Android skins, Sense has come a long way from the clunky blanket it once was. Mature and sensible, there are some things we think Sense does just a bit better than Android proper.

Folders

Adding content to folders on Sense 6.0 couldn’t be easier (but we should mention this is also available on older versions of Sense). Once you create a folder (like you always do — drag and drop an app on top of another), shoving more content into it is as simple as can be. With Android, you’ll have to continue to drag and drop, which sometimes forces the folder to move. It’s really a bit of a pain at times.

With Sense, folders act almost independent of the home screen. When you open a folder, there is a little plus symbol. Clicking on that brings you to your app drawer, with each app not in the folder listed with a check mark next to it. Select all you like, and they’re added to the folder once you hit Done. It’s a great feature for building folders out initially, and really handy for bulk additions.

HTC One Folder AC

Search

With stock Android, the search bar sits at the top of every screen. It’s a bit unnecessary, considering we can drag up from the home screen and get to Google Now (usually). Sense properly jettisons the search bar, or at least lets you do it if you like.

The Google Search bar is still present on the home screen, but can easily be removed by long pressing and flicking away. It’s also not present on any other screen, which is a feature we find a touch maddening about Android at times. The option to simply get rid of what amounts to an often unused widget is a nice feature.

Search Bar AC

Recent Apps

This is mostly a UI change, but it’s just better with Sense. When you hit the recent apps button on your HTC One (M8), it brings up a nice array of thumbnails that can simply be swiped away. Android proper has a vertical list that offers up larger thumbnails, but a limited view of which apps you most recently used.

Additionally, you can click a small button on the top left of the recent apps tray to get to running services. This helps manage background apps better, and gives a good idea of which may be draining your device CPU. If you just want to shut them all down, click the “X” within the circle up top, and they all drift away.

HTC One Recent Apps AC

Quick Settings

When you pull down the notifications menu in Android, the button on the top right shows your quick settings, like WiFi or your profile. The same can be said for Sense on the HTC One (M8), but there is added functionality that makes it just a bit better.

When you click the pen-and-paper icon at the top of the quick settings menu, you can rearrange the order of the settings. Not keen to have your mug staring back at you in the top left? Drag it to the bottom. It’s a great way to manipulate the device to work best for you, offering up the quick access you want, how you want it. We liked it because it allowed us to stack things like WiFi or brightness on one side, which is better for one-handed use.

HTC One QL AC

App Drawer

Within the app drawer on Android, you get an alphabetical list of your apps. There is nothing fancy or clever about it — it’s just a list of your apps. Sense 6.0 took that concept a step further, letting you customize the drawer in a few unique ways.

In the app drawer, you’ll get the ability to keep the alphabetical view, or switch to Custom, or Most Recent (which should be pretty self-explanatory). In the Custom view, clicking on the three-dot menu up top lets you hide apps, rearrange them, or change the grid size. There is also a manage option that takes you straight to the app manager found in settings, which is a handy quick access tweak from HTC.

HTC One App Drawer AC

Conclusion

While some of these features are also available on Sense 5.5, and thus older HTC devices, we’re finding a lot of things we like about the HTC One (M8) versus stock Android. If anything, we can say HTC’s Sense is a step further for Android, not overstepping as some others tend to do.

Some Android OEMs try too hard with their overlays, attempting far too much and making it cumbersome for users. Sense may give Android a new look, but it improves the OS in the areas it needs to. We listed five of the settings and features we really like versus Android, but it won’t be hard to find more. Once a bulky, ugly overlay, Sense has matured quite a bit. It may not move us away from a Nexus (or Moto X) device, but it’s something we enjoy nonetheless.


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  • gmaninvan

    Well done article. Although, with the exception of the multitasking and the quick settings, the rest are all available in launchers such as Apex or Nova

  • Caelum Cunnane

    Majority if not all of the things listed above are the same or better on Sony’s UI, why are you picking Sense 6.0 over all the other skins?

  • andymedders

    Another useful feature with Sense is that you can adjust the volume from the lock screen. Other UI’s might be able to do that, but a Nexus can’t.

    • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

      A Nexus with Cyanogenmod can.

      • andymedders

        Add a UI! No way! This is a simple feature it is surprising it’s not on a Nexus device.

  • Druter

    It is important to point out that this is ONLY the authors OPINION. Having used sense I could not say that there is anything that sense Does better than stock Android. I suspect this entire article maybe nothing more than click bait

    • Mantas

      Anything? seriously? So letting you choose the way your apps or quick settings are arranged is WORSE than not having these options at all? What about the folders? Is it really better not not be able to bulk add apps?Are you high? Have you used the stock camera app? It’s rubbish, Sense and Touchwiz is way way better. And so is a LOT of other things

      • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

        Agree the stock Android camera app IS rubbish, but ToughWiz? That’s a big PILE of rubbish.

      • Mantas

        Oh I agree, but the camera app on TW is still way better than stock

  • Nate

    3 of the 5 are launcher based. Other launchers do the same or even better.

  • Brandon Jiang

    i would actually argue multitasking on sense 6 is not as good as stock android because it is limited to 9 while stock is essentially unlimited

  • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

    Good article! I’ve been running various versions of CyanogenMod for the last couple years with great satisfaction, but this is one phone AND version of Sense I can definitely live with! Can’t wait.