HTC Sensation XE review: The eXtended Edition
Android Market, HTC Hub and HTC Likes
The Android Market had another visual boost lately plus a layout redesign. Now you get a few scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. This organization reminds a lot of the Apple's App Store.
The in-app section is untouched though and we still find it quite unattractive.
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 Market 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 Ė 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 itís stolen and you can lock it or even erase all the data from it.
And donít worry Ė HTCSense.com will back up your Sensation XE contacts and messages (though contacts should already be safe and sound in the Google cloud).
Some other handy features include ring phone (if youíve lost it in your room and canít 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 Ė so you can use the big computer keyboard and you donít even have to have the Sensation XE in front of you to send a couple of messages.
You can also view your and your friendsí Footprints. Finally, 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 canít initiate an app download from the site though.
The site is a bit heavy but if youíre using an updated browser you should be fine. However, HTCSense.com failed to load properly in Internet Explorer 9 but it worked once we enabled Compatibility Mode.
Google Maps and HTC Locations to navigate you
The HTC Sensation XE has a built-in GPS receiver, which managed to get a lock in a minute and 50 seconds (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 weíve 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.
The HTC Sensation XE also comes with HTC Places, an app developed in cooperation with TomTom (provider of the software) and Route66 (providing the maps).
With HTC Locations you can download country maps for free, or just cache maps as you browse (the size of the cache is adjustable). Google Maps has caching enabled too, but the best part about Locations is that it can calculate new routes even when offline Ė and Gmaps canít (it can only reroute you, not calculate a new route).
It doesnít do voice-guided navigation for free like Ovi Maps though Ė but still, you can use the list of instructions and tap the next and pervious arrows to see the next turn. Not ideal but itís a great addition, especially since itís free. You can always pay for a voice-guided navigation license too - it's cheaper than buying a dedicated GPS unit.
HTC Locations has a regular 2D view and a 3D view, which is convenient because it gives you a better look of whatís ahead. Itís just as easy to work with as Google Maps and has POI too (including your Footprints) and also 3D buildings.
Pinch zoom works in both 2D and 3D modes and you can turn on compass mode Ė at first it seems choppy, but thatís only to avoid wobbling (digital compasses are not the most accurate things in the world). You could use two fingers to rotate the camera manually too.