Sometimes, I wish Android were a bit more customizable

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: April 26, 2013

I've had HTC's One for a little while now, and I'm still blown away by this device. I've had devices in the past that I've loved to use, and therefore had trouble putting down if I didn't absolutely have to. I've also had devices that I didn't mind putting down and forgetting about. In the case with the One, though, I find myself staring at it all the time. I'll just look at it, for seemingly no reason. It gets worse when the display is on.

No matter what type of situation HTC finds themselves in right now, as far as I'm concerned the One is a hit. It absolutely does deserve the praise it has been receiving all across the Internet. Sure, Samsung's Galaxy S 4 could very well drown out the attention the One has been receiving, but I hope that isn't the case. With the One's pricing and features, it should still get plenty of attention from in-store sales reps for the carriers it's launched on.

But as much as I love the One, and believe that this is the hardware Android has been waiting for, it isn't perfect. The hardware is pretty dang close, though. Software wise? I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of the changes that HTC has made in their Sense UI.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of changes that the company made to their proprietary software that I love. Sense is in no way shape or form as "in your face" or even prevalent as it was in previous HTC-branded Android devices. Yes, you know Sense is there, especially if your home screen is BlinkFeed, but it's not as heavy as it used to be.

The changes I'm talking about have to deal with the notification shade, but mostly with the app drawer. I still have no idea why you can't hit the Back button to leave the drawer. I don't know why you can't just touch and hold an app icon to drop it on the home screen of your choice, without having to move it up to a "shortcut" option. And, maybe worst of all, the duplication of app icons if you move it out of the bottom row.

These changes just don't make any sense.

This is one reason why I wish Android were more customizable out of the box. Without attaining root and having to add custom ROMs. Yes, that's an option, but it's not an avenue that I want to travel down these days. I'd like the options to just be in the Settings menu, easily accessible with plenty of different options to choose from. It could be something as simple as: "Use Sense 4+ app drawer."

The kicker, though, would have to be that it doesn't look like the Sense 4+ app drawer. I just want it to work like previous devices. It looks great now, so don't change that.

Android is hyped for its customization, and there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that it has more customization options than the other smartphone competitors, such as Apple's iOS or Microsoft's Windows Phone. But I can't help but wish there was more to do, offered by the manufacturer without having to void any type of warranty.

Like the lock screen, for example. The One's lock screen actually does quite a bit, in a lot of good ways. It offers music controls, whether you're using the stock Music player or a third party app to listen to your tunes. It has the weather right there for you to see. And you can choose in the Settings/Personalize area of the device to choose a lock screen style that shows a photo slideshow, or even notifications (like text messages, missed calls and calendar events). But, in the "more customizable" department, I wish I could move these things around on the lock screen itself.

I'd like to move the lock screen music controls, for instance, towards the middle of the display, instead of having them rest at the bottom.

These are little things, I know, and for the most part completely negligible. I just think it would be nice to be able to change things like that if you want, when you want. Of course, if Samsung's Galaxy S 4 is packed to the gills with software features, which can be overwhelming to many, then it's likely shoving that many "customizable" things into Settings would see the same result.

For the foreseeable future, we're probably just going to have to keep leaving it up to the manufacturers and designers of our favorite phones to make the design choices we'll fall in love with when we finally get our hands on their new devices. While there are some changes I wish I could make to the One, I'm okay with saying that HTC has made the Android phone that I've been waiting for. Even if I didn't know I was waiting for it.

If you use Android, do you wish you could have a bit more customization without having to root your device? If you don't own an Android handset, do you wish the phone you are using offered up more customization out of the box? Let me know where you stand on tweaking your handset.