A Week with the HTC Incredible – Sense UI

One of the big differences with HTC phones is the inclusion of the Sense UI. I first encountered it with the Droid Eris and really liked it. You can read my earlier post on the topic for more details. The downside of the Sense UI is that it can delay getting an update to the latest Android OS. I know the Eris is still not on 2.1, but the Incredible is running Android 2.1 and the Sense UI.

The Home Screens

One change with the Sense is that there are 7 home screens instead of 3. I believe the latest Android OS also provides more home screens now, but this was new to me with the Eris. Another nice feature of the Sense UI is that you can now get thumbnails of all your home screens. You access this view by hitting the Home button from the center home screen, or pinching on any home screen. This is a great way to maneuver to the desired home screen.

Scenes

What if 7 home screens aren’t enough for you? Sense also provides a feature called Scenes. This is a way to save your 7-screen setup, including wallpaper. The phone comes with 7 different scenes configured, and you can create and save your own:

This lets you easily change the configuration of your phone for different uses. I could see this being helpful if you want to have certain widgets (and backgrounds) for work, others for home and still others for being out and about.

Widgets

The widget enhancement could fill a whole series of posts. The HTC Widgets included provide multiple options and enhancements. The Music is a good example. It is better looking than the Android widget, and comes in two sizes, full screen and half-screen.

I also like the Clock widget. It provides a lot of creative clock faces including multiple time zone options.

Exchange Support

As with all current Android phones (2.0 or later) the Incredible supports Exchange. It incorporates your exchange calendar with all your other calendars.

Now to be fair, mine is a little complicated. Since I do a lot of testing I have one calendar listed three different ways. Abreon Calendar is the Google Sync calendar of my exchange account (my G1 does not support Exchange, and is my working phone), Exchange is the exchange account synced via wireless, and PC Sync is the PC version using HTC Sync I discussed previously.

Your exchange mail is not incorporated into the main mail program. You need to access it through another mail icon. For me, I like this, I don’t want my work mail in the same place, but for some this is a disappointment.

Another nice addition is QuickOffice. I was able to view an attached excel worksheet with it, and the included PDF Viewer let me see an attached PDF.

Getting Social

The Sense also builds on the Android 2.0/2.1 social account management. The big thing for me is Flickr support. If I didn’t already adore the Sense UI, this would make me want it. Here is just a sample of my accounts screen:

The duplicate Twitter accounts are for Twitter’s own Twitter app and Peep. I think this gives me insight into why the Twitter application for Android requires 2.1, since it uses this account setup.

The Peep twitter application is not bad. I have to say I do prefer Twidroid and my new favorite TweetCaster to it or Twitter’s own application.

The integration is really nice. The phone will try to link accounts for you, and you can go in and link more:

It automatically linked Bob’s Flickr, Google (Gmail) and Facebook accounts. If it incorrectly links (it is pretty conservative about declaring a match) you can tap on the green bar to unlink. You can also link others that it did not find.

As mentioned, I love the Flickr integration. My photo gallery now linked to my Flickr account for easy upload and browsing. Also, I can easily upload video shot on the phone to my linked YouTube account. Here is an example. it is large, so it waited until I connected by Wi-Fi to actually upload. Warning, it’s a video of my kid. I liked it as a test though, since lighting was not great and the dark wood surroundings:

Not bad for low-light. The musicians were on the other side of the platform. The unconverted version is a little crisper than what YouTube did to it, but even that did a nice job.

Conclusion

I think the Sense UI is a great add to this phone. The additional integration it offers, as well as user interface enhancements makes this phone not only more functional, but more pleasant to use.

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