HTC's BlinkFeed is not the all-in-one solution I was hoping it would beAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
It's no secret that I pretty much adore my HTC One. I had my doubts moving from iOS back to Android after having a less-than-stellar experience with pre-ICS versions of the open platform, but together the improvements that both Android and HTC's Sense have made over the past couple of years has been able to sway me from my negative perception of Android to a much more positive one. The combination of software improvements as well as the beautifullly designed hardware aspect of the One has made it a phone worth mentioning several times throughout the year, even several months after its initial release. Not all phones are worthy of such extensive praise.
Although there is a lot to say when it comes to what went right with the One, I do have to admit that there are things I could do without. With the HTC One came the new Sense 5 update, which brought quite a few changes to HTC's skinned version of Android. One of these additions was the addition of BlinkFeed, a social media hub that served the purpose of keeping you up to date across multiple social networks and news platforms through one central feed on your homescreen. When I first heard of BlinkFeed I was pretty excited. BlinkFeed seemed like a convenient alternative to having to open several apps. However, after experiencing BlinkFeed for myself I have to admit that I don't really care for it. I mean that in the most literal way possible. I don't care whether it's there or not, because I never go visit it. At least, intentionally.
I will have the occasional slip-up where my finger accidentally slides my screen over to BlinkFeed - my current set-up doesn't allow me to disable BlinkFeed without downloading a separate launcher. In fact, most HTC One devices won't be able to disable BlinkFeed until they receive the Sense 5.5 update. Alternatively, if you're feeling particularly edgy you can root and install a custom ROM on your One that features the disabling of BlinkFeed. You can also be lazy like me and just ignore it as best as you can. Just the other day I had one of my slip-ups, and although I generally just go back to what I was doing, for once I decided to take a moment and revisit my BlinkFeed screen.
It is hard to place my finger on exactly why I don't like BlinkFeed. I don't think there is any one reason. And, I don't completely hate it; it does look nice for what it's worth, but honestly to me it seems like that's half of BlinkFeed's purpose: big pictures with little snippets of text. Sometimes, the little snippets of text are so short that I need to click on the update to see what it's talking about. For example, I have this update from my dear friend Enrique Iglesias that says "You can check out my performance at the..."
At the where, Enrique? I must know, but I can only find out by clicking on the picture. When I do, I'm taken to the update through the Facebook app, which I was kind of trying to avoid going to in the first place. What's worse, when I click the "Back" capacitive button on my phone to return to BlinkFeed, I'm brought back to the last page that I visited on my Facebook app, not back to BlinkFeed. If I want to return to BlinkFeed, I have to press my home button and then swipe over back to BlinkFeed, and then scroll down to where I was looking. I think I need a glass of lemonade after all that extra work. Kidding, but it's not exactly a process that I would consider convenient.
It's probably worth mentioning that I only enabled updates from about 3 websites, so perhaps that's where I went wrong here. I didn't find it any more convenient to use BlinkFeed to read updates than I would have just by opening the individual apps, because I would just end up going to the apps anyway. That's probably because I had so few enabled. I think that people who look to several websites (you can enable a lot of feeds on here if you want to) for news and updates would benefit from BlinkFeed more than somebody like me. I am surprised that HTC didn't allow the option to disable BlinkFeed from the get-go. Yeah, it's a cool idea, but they couldn't have expected everybody to love it so much that they wouldn't be able to disable it, could they? At least they're changing it in Sense 5.5 - better late than never.
There are a lot of features in the HTC One that I enjoy using, but unfortunately BlinkFeed, to me, was a miss when it comes to being a defining feature of the One.
Images via HTC