Since the very beginning, HTC's Sense UI has been a love or hate thing. There are Android purists who prefer their experience with Google's mobile software to be untainted, or a vanilla experience, and there are customized UI junkies. In between, there are the novices that don't know the difference. Whether you're a fan or hater of Sense, there's one unavoidable fact: Sense UI is an in-your-face, top to bottom overhaul of Android. AOSP goes into HTC looking like one thing and comes out looking entirely different.

In the beginning, these were welcomed changes. Android versions 1.0 through 2.2 were very rough around the edges, frayed even. It looked very engineered and far from modern or aesthetically pleasing. So a few interface customizations were in order to add some polish to the interface and to make the Android experience less ... daunting. Enter the three major alternative Android interfaces: Sense UI, TouchWiz and MOTOBLUR (now referred to as Motorola Applications Platform).

More recently, however, Google has put a lot of focus, hard work and dedication into making the stock Android interface a much more pleasing one. They hired Matias Duarte, the father of the fluid and much-loved webOS interface, to be the Director of Android OS User Experience. Duarte helped bring a lot of the interface changes that were introduced in the first (and only) tablet-specific version of Android, Honeycomb, and subsequently in the latest update, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android 4.0 is a new beast. It's far from perfect, but it's a huge step in the right direction for the Android development team. They've added polish where we never knew it was needed or possible and some features we never knew we would like, or want for that matter. There are some inconsistencies and parts of the interface that simply do not make sense to me at all. But the point is, vanilla Android has come a very long way in a short time, and Google has very nearly attained their goal of removing the need for secondary interfaces.

Now, that's not to say HTC, Samsung, Motorola and every other OEM will quit putting their touch on Android. Each OEM has a different plan for and opinion of the software. And not everyone is going to like stock Android as is, so third-party interfaces are good to have around. But it's about time the cut a little extra baggage on the interfaces. They're ... overbearing, to say the least.

While some are clearly worse than others, Sense UI is notorious for being the most in-your-face experience. Not a single element of the stock interface stays the same. We were curious how interfaces would work with Android 4.0 and had assumed that since they were lightweight with Honeycomb that the lightweight alterations would, too, appear in ICS. Turns out, we couldn't have been more wrong. This isn't exactly news anymore, though. We've seen images of Sense UI and TouchWiz (presumably) running atop Android 4.0 several times now. And every time I see it, it cringe a little more.

Yesterday evening, the RUU (ROM Update Utility) for the HTC Endeavor was leaked, showing off quite a few screen shots of the updated Sense 4.0 interface. Unsurprisingly, it looks absolutely nothing like Ice Cream Sandwich. Every single aspect of the interface has been tweaked. It looks like legacy Android, pre-Ice Cream Sandwich, and something about it forces me to believe it will perform like legacy Android – lag, crashes, inexplicable battery drain, etc. Sense always has and as long as it's a complete over haul, it will likely remain that way.

But what's even worse is the level of fragmentation that HTC has cause within its own line of devices. Some are still on Froyo, others are on Gingerbread and soon the first line of ICS devices will launch. Likewise, some devices will still be on Sense 2.0 while the others will be on Sense 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0. The customizations are so deep and stretch so far and wide across the system that it makes it difficult to push these changes out to every device in a timely manner.

I'm not saying HTC needs to completely abandon Sense UI. While I wouldn't mind it at all, there are a lot of people out there that would be readying petitions, vowing to never buy from HTC again and threatening the Taiwanese handset makers. And they have some things going for them, like changeable themes and an extremely handy lock screen. They just need to lighten the load a bit.

It just seems like HTC is no longer worried about user experience, how fluid the software is or how quickly updates roll out, but more concerned about making sure their software looks nothing like Google's.

What say you, Sense lovers and haters? Does HTC need to cut some weight and make Sense a little less domineering? Should they embrace some of the major improvements that Google has made in Ice Cream Sandwich? If they focused less on changing every line of Android source code and worried more about updating their existing devices, it would be better for us all.

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75 Reactions to this post

"Does Sense need to be toned down?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Erica Reid I like Sense. I see no issues with it. Unique to anything I have seen and I have owned a lot of phones lately. Why make everything look the same? There would be no reason for different devices if they all looked the same, software-wise.
Adam Lalani Yes!!!!!!
Kristopher Davis Sense is king!!!
Joshua Earl Senegal Definitely, or at the very least make it less resource-intensive.
Anonymous yes, or at the very least allow the option of vanilla ICS instead...
Eduardo Ordaz Some like it some don't. If u don't like it get a different launcher. And plus if u want stock Android get a nexus. That's why there are choices.
Frederic Rüfenacht Definitely, YEES!!!
Jabin George I think they should tone it down. They are over doing it just a little bit.
Tyler Kirchman Sense and touchwiz should be shut down for ice cream sandwich phones
Javier Pineda Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, beautiful interface, but too heavy and needs a lot of RAM. There must be an option for the costumer.
SnKBlaZe Should it, could it: Yes. Would it: No.
L.j. Costanzo I jumped from Ios to samsungs cover on android, and was disappointed. I thought android was a joke until I got my thunderbolt. That's not to say that there aren't problems, but we always find things we can pick apart in these devices. I enjoy my HTC, and android experience for now.
Everardo Diaz Yes finally thx aaron
Michael Smith Yes. as well as fix the major bugs in it, I refuse to buy an HTC android because of the problems.
Luis Batlle they should just get rid of it
Brandon Johnson How about they just put the sense widgets up for download from the market and take that battery intensive skin off?
Nathan Allen Nope. Sense sets the standard.
Jason Vargas Yea. Alot
Kyle Forest No, I have sense 3.0 on my desire Hd and it's fine.
Kong Yang No. Sense is the best.
Baron Crandall Yes. But then that's why I stick with a Nexus. That UI just took up too much of the CPU tho.
Tyler Frodl i like Touchwiz 4.0 its so easy to use and 3.0 sucked.
Jess Mahurin No. Sense makes android more appealing to the eye compared to touchwiz or motoblur. It should always be an option for android buyers.
Rami Serhan Yes definitely. It is too intrusive and imposing. And it crashes wayyyyyy too often.
Ryan Whitmore YES! literally just moved from sense because it had too many 'features', animations etc etc
Equaknox Knox its the badest UI out there...WTF....KIDDING ME RIGHT
Frank Porter HTC absolutely needs to ligthen up quite a bit on ICS, but it won't
Brian Walsh Sense makes the phone way too laggy ....I didn't like gingerbreads UI at all so I liked HTC sense last year but I got the gnex now and absolutely love ics UI .....its sharp looking and smooth
Keith Howells Yes pure android.. HtC can release widgets in the market. Tired of carrier bloat and skins holding up releases
Anthony Steele I like my sense, android looks pure boring without it
Brandon Worley Nope... sense is why i buy an HTC instead of the other pos out there ie.Motorola Samsung
Nicholas Green Have had hoc and Motorola (rezound, droid razor maxx) and prefer Motorola there are hidden tricks like iOS like swipe to go home
Harshit Gupta i think no.....htc's ui & its design r d only 2 thngs dat makes it stand out 4rm d crowd
Marvin Rodriguez I love sense for their UI and customization. I even like sense 4.0 Takes a lot of 4.0 android features add a little of their UI. I have always like HTC and their innovation. Enough said feb 26 is something to look forward from
Karl Wuscher Yes it does. Always had the UI reboot till I rooted. I now have cyanogen mod on phone and have a much more responsive phone. I own a HTC sensation
Ken Tate Why can't Sense be an option for htc customers? If you like it, use it...if you don't, don't. Seems like ICS affords that option!
Jason Ramos ICS is so nice it doesn't need an overlay. But overlays give people a choice so they can stay but HTC should down it down a little so it's not that intrusive
Steph Marq Vanilla ICS Android>>>>...
Jose Gabriel Antonio HTC sense 3.0 has been a major disappointment( sensation 4g) That's why I'm using go launcher.
Tony Abiama I really like Sense, I'm just hoping they keep it in line with what's going on in ICS
Paul Davis its a gas hog of an operating system
Richard Wilson Yes! It boggs down Android, making it super LAGGY!
William Martin Nah, choice is good, sense is a great skin for someone who isn't interested in doing loads to make their phone personal. A non geek can just get one, turn it on, add a few widgets, and have a great looking phone that does everything they need
Jack Danini I agree, even though I perfer Sense to the god aweful touch wiz, I would still perfer to be on stock Android. It takes so damn long to get offical updates due to all these damn skins from individual companies...
Chris Payne They need to get rid of it altogether. I'm sick of all these skins causing issues and delays in updates. Manufacturers need to compete with hardware, not with software.
Paul Rodriguez Have used sense for 3 years now, and I've despised it for 3 years. Root JUST to get rid of sense.
Gustav Wahlström Sense is pretty nice. But there should be some changes in it.. for example make the damn widgets have customizable size!
Angelo Bruno just for the fact i can toggle the mobile network on and off with an htc widget...cant do that on motorola, or a home replacement app(or none that i have tried)
David Rathbun Yes. The HTC Sense UI is my least favorite of the interfaces. It slows down the devices horribly also. The best interfaces are Touch Wiz and Motoblur hands down.
Roman Calabaza Martinez Yes, I have an iPhone now, but like the lg g2x I prefer vanilla-like ui
Arvydas Gr OH NO. Android UI is ugly, sense is good
Matt Michaud Prefer vanilla
Gordon Christie better off with less how mant roms have sense or touchwiz on it
Tim Moore Yes. Especially with ICS now. It made Gingerbread prettier for sure but the nice thing about ICS is that the UI is much better. That on top of the fact that Sense has been buggy recently just makes it all much more of a pain.
Trever Pitts Why can't there just be a stock android like the HTC GOOGLE G1 back in 2008
Luke Wooldridge I love sense don't leave it but I agree sense 3.5 is better looking than 4.0
Fray Contreras HTC sense is overrated.
Mark MacCurrie Yes they should to make it run on older phones more efieciently. I have a desire and love to flash custom roms but it runs like a dog when i try a sense 3.0 or 3.5 rom. I'd love to have a sense 3.5 rom as my daily rom but it is simply too ram heavy making thr phone run shite! So yeah, tone it down so it runs like sense 2.1 and i'll be happy!
Eric Hook Yes. Needs to be more like touch or better yet, like pure google. Who wants to see pages flying around for no reason. I put the ROM on my phone lagged but more importantly I was bored with it in a week
Anthony Dunlap Sense 4.0 looks like shit.....just saying.
Alex Castillo Htc tries to hard.
Matt Michaud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnT99JCtjqU&feature=youtube_gdata_player Needs this :)
Devin Vosburgh In my opinion it does. I always try to put a sense rom on my Tbolt...but always got back to an AOSP Rom because it is faster. Sense is pleasing to the eyes, but I would rather have vanilla Android.
Robert Centennial No it makes phone news happy.
Zanzi Ok Then it will be the HTC failurw
Boyd C Adkins IV If you dont like Sense, use a different UI

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