Phew. Now that the festive season is well and truly behind us and I’m (mostly) sober, I can tell you quite lucidly about the early Christmas present I got from HTC. No, it wasn’t an HTC Sensation XE. But that would’ve been nice.
A few days before Christmas I received an update notification on my trusty HTC Desire HD. I was already rocking Gingerbread (Android 2.3.something), so wondered what the heck it might be. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was HTC Sense 3.0 and Android 2.3.5 and the new Android Market.
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you what the difference between Android 2.3.4 and Android 2.3.5 are. Indeed, I hardly noticed much change going from Froyo to Gingerbread many months ago.
I suspect the battery life might be slightly improved, though it’s nigh on impossible to tell, as my phone use varies dramatically from day to day. Sometimes I’ll get the expected 24 hours, but I’ve been known to drain the battery in as little as five hours with rapid-fire Facebook messaging.
Nope, the big change was HTC Sense 3.0, which of course makes perfect – pardon the pun – sense, since it’s concerned with aesthetics and the UI and junk.
So what’s new?
When unlocking my HTC Desire HD, there’s now a screen with four icons (Phone, Mail, Camera, Messages) along the bottom, and a little ring. You can either pull the ring into the middle to go to your homescreen as normal, or skip straight to one of the a-four-mentioned (wow, I’m on fire today) by dragging the relevant icon into the ring.
I quite like the idea; I appreciate the logic, but I can’t recall ever making use of the shortcuts. Worse still, the alarm screen makes use of the ring system too, and it’s a total head-f*ck first thing in the morning. You can drag either Snooze or Dismiss into the ring, or drag the ring into the centre to turn it off.
Yep, I’m blaming the alarm for my sleeping in yesterday morning. Nothing to do with playing Skyrim till 4am. Ahem.
So, we’ve successfully managed to navigate past the slick but arguably redundant ring system. The first thing you’ll notice is a spinny 3D effect as the phone brings up the homescreen. Nice.
Needless to say the homescreens themselves look identical, but navigating between them also adopts a nice pseudo 3D effect, particularly evident if you happen to drag slowly.
Note: this in no way means I suddenly endorse 3D. The fake 3D on display here doesn’t demand that I hold my phone at a particular angle, or give me headaches. So there.
The Messages app looks infinitely better. The inbox now previews just five or six texts rather than cramming nine (I’m pretty sure it was nine) into one screen. The actual messages look sweet too, with a sticker effect that makes it appear as though the corners are peeling off – a bit like post-it notes.
Some of the widgets look sexier, particularly HTC Weather. It adopts a slick new font, and I reckon some of those weather sounds (rain, for example) are new.
And finally, there’s the Android Market. I moaned for months about the bloomin’ Android Market update, and now that I’ve got it – I really couldn’t care less. Hey man, it’s the principal of the thing.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. And what’s my point? It’s amazing the difference a fresh coat of paint can make. I no longer feel compelled to rush out and replace my previously-stale HTC Desire HD. But heck, that’ll all change come Mobile World Congress…