In Android's early days, it was a little bit ugly, and there's really no other way of putting it. Back then, custom software solutions such as HTC's Sense served to add both functionality and beauty to the Android system. However, it has been quite a while since Android's initial versions, and the UI has gotten much better. In fact, for the last couple of years Android has actually been good enough that manufacturer's custom interfaces were detrimental to the Android user experience in many ways.
Even though HTC Sense has been one of the most popular manufacturer UIs, it too has been getting less and less popular with every new release of Android, and has gained a reputation of being bloated, slow, and generally too big. Aside from overwriting many of Google's changes, the software also uses up a lot of valuable resources because it tries to do too much.
Fortunately, it looks like that will soon change. According to HTC's chief product officer, Kouji Kodera,
"From the original Sense up to Sense 3.5 we added too many things. The original concept was that it had to be simple and it had to be easy to use and we had that philosophy, but over time it got cluttered…For the HTC One range we have taken it down to Sense 2 again."
Basically, it sounds like HTC realized that Sense was going in the wrong direction, and there are going to be radical changes to go along with Android 4.0 and the HTC One line. It sounds HTC is going to step back and allow Ice Cream Sandwich to shine through, while still offering some lighter customizations to make devices their own. It's about time, too, considering today's Sense still has some of the same basic feel as the version that ran on Windows Mobile 6.5.
Along with their new policy of releasing fewer devices, this announcement really sums up what seems to be HTC's strategy for 2012: simplicity. And while I wouldn't mind Sense going away completely, there are still some users who want it, and for them this will be a step in the right direction. In fact, I am very interested to see HTC's advances this year, as they appear to be making a lot of great changes to their mobile strategy.[Pocket Lint]