What to expect from HTC Sense 6.0
With the new HTC One (M8) launching on 25 March 2014, there will be a new version of HTC Sense, or so the rumours will have us believe.
The new HTC One has seen more leaks than any previous device we can recall. We've see video demos, we've seen the new handset sold on eBay, product shots, spec leaks and everything else.
Most of the attention focuses on the hardware, about the metal body or the twin rear cameras, but less has been said about the sixth Sense. We've picked through the recent video leaks to discover a little more of what to expect from Sense 6.0 come launch day.
It's Sense as you know it
Those hoping for a radical change in Sense should prepare for more of the same, as the look and feel of HTC Sense 6.0 appears to be very much as it was on HTC Sense 5.5.
READ: HTC Sense 5.5 review
A demo video reveals that this is HTC Sense 6.0 running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which is what we expect the HTC One (M8) to launch with.
The look and feel is all familiar, although some videos and many leaked shots haven't shown much of BlinkFeed. From Sense 5.5 onwards you've been able to turn it off, which we suspect is what has happened on many of the early reveals.
We've seen BlinkFeed on previous renders looking much as it currently does, so we wouldn't expect much of a change to HTC's feed aggregation service. If anything, it looks tighter and more refined than it did previously.
Visually, Sense 6.0 appears to have stripped a lot of the fuss out of the icons in the settings menu. This was a step taken in Sense 5 and it looks like HTC is continuing to move Sense towards the minimalist.
The apps tray appears very much as it did previously, although it looks as though the clock and weather widget which sat at the top in Sense 5.x has now gone. It was unnecessary, so that's a good thing, and it looks like you still get all the same options for ordering or sorting your apps.
HTC has been no stranger to gestures, offering the three-finger throw action for media for some time. But it looks as though Sense 6.0 is getting a whole range of new gestures that will work from standby, rather than when the phone is already awake.
There is double tap to wake, swipe left to launch widgets, swipe right to launch BlinkFeed, swipe up to unlock and using the volume button to launch the camera.
This should mean that you can bypass the need to press the standby button before doing anything, making it faster to access the device. Whether this will work on older devices too, we can't be sure and we're yet to see how this works if you have security - possibly not at all.
Recent apps is a standard button on Android, but on the HTC One (M7), it was accessed via a double tap on the home button. Now that a recent apps button is making an appearance, it looks like you'll get more direct access.
The screen has had something of a redesign over the Sense 5.x version. Not only is there a top banner, but you have to accommodate the on-screen touch controls, so there's a little less space for thumbnails.
We notice, however, that there's now a cross at the top of the screen, suggesting you'll be able to kill all the tasks in one go, as well as swiping away the ones you don't want. There's also a menu button of sorts, which we're guessing will let you see what those apps are doing.
One of the interesting details in one of the videos is that BoomSound gets it's own toggle in the audio settings, with a logo that's not too far removed from Beats.
Beats Audio was in place on the HTC One, but that agreement came to an end in 2013, so we fully expect to see the HTC One (M8) launch with no Beats branding at all.
However, there is the Beats option in Sense 6.0 in one of the videos, as there was in Sense 5.x. This suggests to us that we could be looking at Sense 6.0 on the M7, although the use of on-screen controls would then be out of place, as the M7 has capactive buttons. Perhaps this is an early build or port of the software.
Zoe is a separate app, camera is refreshed
In a couple of these HTC M8 videos we've spotted an app called Zoe. Seeing as Zoe is one of the big features of the HTC One, we're guessing that Zoe has broken free of the system software to become an app in its own right. The icon matches the shortcut to Zoe in the camera interface from one of the leaks.
When the HTC Desire 310 was launched, we noted that this new budget phone came with some HTC features, but otherwise ran stock Android. Perhaps Zoe's presence as a separate app supports this change in approach from system-wide changes to feature focused.
The camera in Sense 6.0 appears to have been revised. It offers familiar features, like dual capture (front and back) which was present on the HTC One max, but the interface now appears to offer up main shooting modes much more readily. There's a new menu button in the corner offering access to camera, video, dual camera, selfie, Zoe and 360 panorama.
There's still some mystery surrounding the rear camera(s) on the HTC M8, but it looks like the interface in Sense 6.0 is simpler than previously.
When will I get HTC Sense 6.0?
HTC Sense 6.0 is expected to launch on the HTC One (M8) on 25 March and we will be at the event to bring you all the details as they happen.
There has been no word on when HTC Sense 6.0 might be available as an update for the HTC One, HTC One mini or HTC One max, but we suspect that HTC will confirm those updates soon after launch of the HTC M8.
Both the source videos are below if you want to take a look, there may be some other details you're interested in.