HTC Explorer review: The start of a journey
Android Market joined by HTC Hub and HTC Likes
The Android Market uses several side-scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. This layout reminds of the Apple's App Store a lot.
There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).
HTC Likes is an alternative way to browse the Market, which might prove to be more convenient than the vanilla app. It has tabs for Featured and Popular apps, which are presented as 3D cards.
To make finding apps even easier, you can see what apps/games your friends have commented on, which is a great way to find recommended apps. Or you can use the HTCSense.com site to look for apps from the comfort of your computer and mark them. Later, you can find them in the Marked items tab.
HTC Likes pulls apps from the Android Market. You can comment on apps, like and share them via texts or email, even over Twitter and Bluetooth (which just sends a text note with a link to the app).
Not quite an app store, but the HTC Hub is a good source of widgets, wallpapers, scenes and skins and also sound customizations – ringtones, alarms and notification sounds and entire sound sets (a set is a whole package that brings together the other three categories).
HTCSense.com offers some premium features for free (a bit like HTC Locations). The Phone locator can be used to locate your phone if it’s stolen and you can lock it or even erase all the data from it.
And don’t worry – HTCSense.com will back up your contacts and messages on the Explorer (though contacts should already be safe and sound in the Google cloud).
Some other handy features include ring phone (if you’ve lost it in your room and can’t find it), toggles for call and message forwarding. The site also lets you view and edit contacts and view messages. You can compose SMS and MMS messages too – so you can use the big computer keyboard and you don’t even have to have the Explorer in front of you to send a couple of messages.
You can also view your and your friends’ Footprints. Finally, the HTC Hub lets you browse apps and games on the computer and mark them, which makes them easier to find on the phone later (in HTC Likes). You can’t initiate an app download from the site though.
The site is a bit heavy but if you’re using an updated browser you should be fine.
The HTC Explorer has a built-in GPS receiver, which managed to get a lock in under a minute (with A-GPS switched off). If all you need is a rough idea of where you are (within 150 meters) you can use the Cell-ID and Wi-Fi network lock, which is very fast.
Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we’ve covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere. You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View.