As an ex-Blackberry user, my first impressions of my first Android device was memorable. It was like jumping from a scooter to a street bike. That fast phone turned out to be an HTC Droid Incredible. At the time I had no clue what stock, vanilla Android was. I didn't really need to; HTC Sense had me covered.

If you follow Android (and if you're reading this, then yes; you most likely do), then you'll know that 2012 was a great year for Samsung, and an underwhelming one for HTC. For a while there, HTC looked to be in the top spot as an Android OEM, thanks in part to the HTC Evo 4G. Then came Sense 3.0.

HTC Sense seemed to become bloated on Sense 3+. They added a slew of themes, animations, and a lot of HTC software. People were seeing the OS slow down thanks to the Sense 'skin'. Good thing for custom launchers, amiright? No, but really, Sense wasn't always that bad. Like I mentioned, I enjoyed the earlier versions of Sense.

It's now 2013 and HTC has introduced the world to the HTC One, which has Sense 5 on-board. Here's some of the major features of Sense 5; will they be enough to bring the enthusiasts back to the HTC fold?

HTC BlinkFeed

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HTC BlinkFeed is a "Windows-Like" widget, which feeds you all your social and news feeds straight to your home screen At first glance, it looks like their Windows 8 phone. When I first saw it, I wasn't too crazy about it. But, after seeing it again actually in use, it's not that bad, actually. It also functions like the Google Plus, and YouTube app, scrolling-wise. When you do chose to scroll to look at your feeds, your clock widget on top goes up, too, which is a nice, yet subtle feature. Once you scroll all the way down your feeds, you're welcomed with a nice looking calendar widget.

If I had a Sense 5 on my device, would I use BlinkFeed? I honestly don't I think I would for a few reasons. First, battery life. HTC is known for underwhelming battery life. Maybe we can set it to pull feeds at a specific time? Ok, great, that's something to consider. Here's another rebuttal -- it takes too much screen real estate and I can't have any app icons on the homescreen. Sure, I can. There's a row on the bottom for apps, plus, you can use folders. Shoot! Ok, so maybe I would use BlinkFeed. Would you?

HTC ZOE

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Think of live tiles, again, but this time in your gallery. With HTC's new camera/gallery software, you press the shutter button and it automatically takes twenty pictures and a three second video. Once in the gallery, you'll see all your pics moving. This reminds me of the pictures/newspapers in the Harry Potter movies, which is awesome! It's such a small detail, but welcomed. I get amused easily, can you tell? I would love something like this in Vanilla Android. It probably doesn't serve any function, but it's a cool way to show off to your friends.

New Clock Widget

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One thing that really stands out on a Sense phone is the HTC Clock Widget. You know it's an HTC phone from that widget alone. In Sense 5, you get a new HTC Clock Widget that is nice and minimalistic. And yes, it still has the flip animation. Even the weather is minimalistic, which looks a lot like some third-party weather apps out there. The more I look at it, the more I like it! One thing to note about this widget: if you use it, it seems to stay almost everywhere. For example, in the app drawer, it's present up on top. It's nothing bad, but definitely new for Sense.

Interactive TV Guide

One new, neat feature that Sense comes with, is the ability to use the HTC One as a remote control. I think I'll let HTC take this one:


"Tired of remotes taking up valuable couch space? The new HTC One is ready to help you channel surf. With Sense TV, all it takes is a few simple steps and you'll be able to select TV channels, access program guides, adjust audio and more with your HTC One. Find your favorite shows, and it will notify you when they're on. Take control of your TV experience with your phone."


- HTC

The sensor for this also doubles as your power button. Really, really, subtle! Like the gallery, show this off to your friends; I can guarantee there will be some envy!

Lockscreen

The lockscreen here takes some ques from Touchwiz. To unlock, you just swipe up from almost anywhere on the screen. You also have your icon dock from your homescreen present here. To access those apps you just tap and hold the icon, then swipe up and BAM! You are in your app.

App Drawer

This is where you see some new, maybe weird, but cool things. When you open up your app drawer, you're presented with something that looks like another homescreen, but with your app icons. Your icons are rows of 3 and it doesn't appear that you can change it. From this drawer, you're also able to create folders in the App Drawer. This is something new that I don't believe I've seen before. Also, like I mentioned in the clock widget portion, your HTC Clock Widget hovers on the top of the screen.

Home Screens

Other than BlinkFeed, once you swipe to your left, you see the normal looking screens that we're all used to. From there, you're able to customize and add widgets and additional screens. Now, it's starting to look more like Android!

HTC Apps

Some HTC apps have been given a makeover, Holo style! One example is the HTC calendar app. Once you open it, it looks like a native Android app. You'll notice the holo-like design to it, which I think looks better than the stock Android calendar we have now.

And that's a wrap!

Those were some of the features and changes in Sense 5. What do you guys think: yay, or nay? Personally, I like it. Would I leave a Nexus device with Vanilla Android for it? No, probably not.They do have a lot of work ahead of them, though, with the likes of Touchwiz and Motorola's UI (not Blur) taking some leaps this past year. HTC's refinement of the Sense experience in Sense 5 shows they still have the drive to innovate within the confines of their custom UI. With an HTC device having been my introduction to the Android world, how could I not give it a second look?]]>