Is HTC creating a type of fragmentation of their own?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: April 14, 2011

Of all the custom interfaces in Androidland, HTC's Sense UI appears to be the fan favorite. Though some may deem it a little cartoonesque, Sense has always done a pretty good job of cleaning up and organizing Android for the smartphone newcomer. It polishes off some of the rough edges that stock Android still has and typically provides a solid experience for users all around.

Custom interfaces don't stop there though. They closely tie into a very touchy subject for Android users: the update process. Android is notorious for painfully slow updates. From the time that fragmentation was brought to the light and updating became an issue, the finger has been pointed at manufacturers' custom interfaces.

After countless episodes of the issue last year, several manufacturers have vowed to make the process less painful and to cut wait times as much as possible. And Google – in an attempt to remove a rather large thorn from their side – has set out to resolve the fragmentation issue the best they can.

The major gripe people have with fragmentation is devices getting left behind in the update process. For instance, the Samsung Fascinate on Verizon is, and may remain, stuck on Eclair while its brethren are all sporting Froyo. We live in a world where new, cutting edge phones can slip into obsolescence in a matter of months, not years. The idea is to buy phones that have been made with the future in mind, or future-proofed for short.

This morning, I woke up to headlines stating that the newest version of Sense UI, version 3.0 that was shown off on the EVO 3D back at CTIA, would not make it to older devices. No big deal, right? Wrong. These so called “older devices” was a reference to the newly released ThunderBolt, Inspire 4G, EVO Shift 4G, and even the original EVO. The story claimed that these brand new phones will not be getting the full Sense 3.0 in their Gingerbread updates. Needless to say, I was furious.

This means that some HTC devices will be on one version of Sense UI while others will run another version. It's is beginning to sound like Android's fragmentation woes all over again, isn't it? Luckily, HTC has since corrected our errors and clarified that some core aspects would be left out in the update for some phones due to hardware constraints.

Most likely, the "hardware limitations" are the 3D graphics included in the newer version of Sense. I imagine HTC will make it a point to include the new lock screen, most of the new widgets, and the new continuous scrolling home screens. I'm sure if any important goodies are left out, the amazing Android devs that supply us with custom ROMs will work their magic and include anything and everything they possibly can. In fact, I hear some of them are already working on it. Having Sense 3.0 on my ThunderBolt before either the EVO 3D or Sensation launch would be a sweet, sweet victory.

While custom UI versions isn't quite as serious as what firmware version your device may be stuck on, it's still frustrating that devices that launched not even a month ago will not be getting the full version of the newer Sense UI. We already feel like our phones are outdated by the time they hit shelves. This just adds insult to injury.

Image via PocketNow