The Original HTC Hub for Windows Phone, while clever, and including some great animation, was probably a knee jerk reaction from HTC. How could they make a mark on devices they produce that run Windows Phone, when their hallmark is the Sense interface. HTC have been skinning phones that run Windows Mobile, and Android, for ages, providing a consistent user experience, with Windows Phone they [HTC] haven’t been able to do that, but they do have a quiver full of apps that they ship with their WP devices. The HTC Hub is one of those, and in it’s original form was fairly bleak. It was recently updated to version 2.2, and with the update came some big changes. The original hub was a panoramic app that just sat on the phone, with lots of bling.
That was then, back on release OS about .7004, the UX while impressive, and the animations cute, it was a whole lot of bells and whistles with promotion for HTC’s apps and that’s about it. At the time it was impressive and showy, but as we have seen, HTC are now able to include their add on apps directly into the OS. The changes from the release version of Windows Phone to now are huge, and the way OEM’s are approaching apps has also been refined.
The latest update to the HTC Hub, whilst still a panoramic app, has lost a lot of the bling, but added some sense features that a lot of us would not choose to install.
Again the app is panoramic, although that is not obvious, weather is foremost, and you can add, delete feeds and locations etc as you wish. One thing I found is that you can not remove all of the stocks feeds, when you get to the last one, it stays, I think I was left with Yahoo finance. As an app, it seems you have to have input an all screens and cannot delete all inputs, feeds on a screen, so as not to see that screen. The best feature, an RSS reader, and while the preset feeds seem to go back to the WinMo days you can add a feed from any site you like as long as you have the address. What seems apparent is that even after all this time and some major updates, HTC’s design team can not cope with the fact that they cannot skin windows phone. It’s Metro or nothing as far as Microsoft are concerned. Maybe HTC’s design team have a brief, that cannot be waivered from, but they need to add some Metro sensibility to their apps for Windows Phone.
Seeing the first update for the app, it doesn’t seem like there’s been a lot of thought put into it, and one would think HTC are not throwing many resources at the OS. Compared to Android, it feels like Windows Phone is an afterthought for HTC, and while they are a major OEM partner of Microsoft and the OS, it feels like they haven’t got their heads around it properly yet. HTC have hit on a design formula that produces beautiful handsets, but at some point with Windows Phone, they will have to abandon the way they approach user experience on their Android devices, graphically, visually, and start to embrace Metro design.