Sunday, March 31, 2013

Making HTC Sense less annoying on the HTC One V

I'm not a big fan of third-party skins for the Android interface; they seem to add clutter and bloat to an elegantly designed UI - differentiation for the sake of differentiation. So after getting an HTC One V, it didn't take long for me to start looking for ways to strip out the HTC Sense skin.

It turns out the only way to purge it from your phone is by rooting and flashing a custom ROM. Since I wasn't ready to go that far, here's what I did:

  • Installed these apps - all free unless otherwise noted - which replicate the stock experience:
    • Android 4.1 Jellybean Launcher - Edit 4/14: Here are instructions for setting it as the default launcher.
    • Google Calendar
    • Camera JB+ ($2). If you don't mind ads, you can go with the free Camera ICS and Gallery ICS instead. A nice side bonus is that the stock camera app lets you disable the annoying shutter sound.
    • Alarm clock: Clock ICS. If you prefer the JB version, you can get Clock JB (free, no alarm functionality) or Clock JB+ ($1).
    • Clock widget: 
      • Analog: Install Clock ICS or Clock JB.
      • Digital: Clock JB will give you a nice JB-style digital clock, but I ended up installing ClockQ, which, qgives me a lovely ICS-lockscreen-style clock on my home screen.
    • Android 4.1 JB Messaging SMS. Install the older version noted in the description since MMS is broken in the latest. Unnecessary if you use Google Voice.
    • The HTC browser isn't bad, but I installed Chrome, which gives me cross-device bookmark syncing. Note that there is pretty bad display glitching in Chrome on this device. It's a known issue that is fixed by an Android OTA update that Virgin hasn't pushed yet and may not ever. Yet another reason to root... Edit 4/11: Virgin has pushed the update. Check manually if you haven't gotten it yet via Settings > About > Software updates.
    • I haven't been able to find an ICS-like lock screen that works reliably, so I'm stuck with the HTC one.
  • Disable unnecessary services (Settings > Apps > All):
    • Calendar
    • Calendar Widget
    • Weather
    • Weather Widget: Use the News & Weather widget instead.
    • I use and highly recommend SwiftKey ($4), so I was able to disable HTC Sense Input as well.
  • Pick a wallpaper from the Wallpapers section instead of the HTC Wallpapers section.
Congrats, you now have a mostly stock-looking phone!

Am I missing anything? Comments, please!

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