Hands-On: HTC’s Sense Home Launcher for Android [First Impressions]

It was recently discovered that HTC is building its own launcher completely based on its Sense Home screen found on all their smartphones. However, only limited users have been able to try it out as it’s only making its way to certain HTC Preview members. But with the help from a friendly user over on Google+ (thanks Vlad!), we were able to discover that the necessary APK to install the launcher was on APK Mirror, one of the highest trusted APK distributors ever, all along. So, we downloaded the file right away, transferred it to an Android 5.1 Lollipop smartphone, and got to work. Here’s our hands-on and first impressions of the HTC Sense Home launcher for Android.


Note: Since this app is still in very early beta stages, we won’t go too deep into what the capabilities of the Sense Home launcher are as they may very well change over time and improve overall. However, we will share with you our hands-on impressions of the launcher and give you our thoughts on what it can and can’t do right now.

HTC’s Sense Home launcher currently works on any device running Android 4.4 KitKat and later, so since most of us are pretty up to date by now, it’s safe to say we’re in the clear for a successful download and installation. The launcher is about 95% identical to HTC’s built-in version found on all their devices. I say 95% because there are some alterations like intros to different features found throughout the experience.

When you first start up the app, these are the screens you see. They walk you through setting the launcher up and help you choose a wallpaper alongside a theme. More on that in a bit.

After you make your way through the setup process, you’ll be greeted with this screen:


This same screen is also found on all HTC smartphones as the default. Of course, the icons look a bit different on those devices, however you should see a pretty similar home setup.

Something I love found on HTC’s phones is BlinkFeed. I love the idea of just swiping to the right of your home screen and seeing all your news, tweets, and Facebook posts on one screen. I’ve dreamt about having that feature, and now, it’s finally here. So obviously, I had to check that out.

As you can see, this version of BlinkFeed is pretty much identical to the one found on HTC’s devices. You can add your social and news feeds, scroll through it continuously, and set to auto refresh on Wi-Fi and/or cellular data. There might be other feeds like your Google+ profile and LinkedIn news you can add to the stream, however I couldn’t get those to work as there’s no option to add them both. However this screenshot clearly states this action can be taken upon.


The reason why you can’t add these feeds yet to your BlinkFeed screen is probably due to the fact that this is beta 1 of probably many of Sense Home launcher. I’ll have a follow-up to this hands-on session where I’ll determine whether any missing features in here appear in later builds.

Moving on from the BlinkFeed screen, you’re able to control your entire home screen like you would on any of HTC’s devices. You can customize the background, select different themes from the Theme Store, add icons and widgets to your home screen, add and removes multiple screens you may or may not need, customize the app drawer, and more.

Overall, first impressions of the Sense Home launcher from HTC are pretty great. Of course, there’s plenty of bugs around this entire app like the fact that I sometimes have to double tap on an app for it to open alongside random vibrations in the oddest locations from within the app, however once you look past that, this makes for a pretty great experience. I’ve always been a fan of HTC’s Sense Home launcher on their products, so now that I get to have it for free on an Android handset I already have is great.

As previously mentioned, I’ll have a follow-up to this article when the full version of the launcher comes out via the Google Play Store. Be sure to stay tuned!

If you wanna download the HTC Sense Home launcher for your Android device, click here.

What’s your thoughts on HTC’s Sense Home launcher for Android? Let us know in the comments!