Every Android device manufacturer has at one point or another pondered how to make their devices stand out in a crowded field of competitors.
There are plenty of ways to tackle that question but Sharp is taking a tried and true approach for their newest Japan-only smartphones — throwing their own custom UI over the stock Android experience, thanks to a little help from global design firm frog.
The so-called Feel UX greets users with the image-centric lockscreen, which lets them swipe left and right through their stored photos in addition to displaying notifications, stock quotes, the current weather and (naturally) allowing people to unlock their device. Once users have navigated past the lockscreen, they’ll be met with a very different sort of homescreen — instead of the typical multiscreen layout, Feel puts most of the focus on the app launcher, while swiping to the right brings up a tightly-packed widget page and another page solely for shortcuts to contacts and actions like changing a Facebook status.
It’s a sharp looking concept to be sure, but I’d caution Sharp to keep their ears open for consumer issues. There’s a tendency for some of the more overwrought Android skins to make the process of actually using the device rather sluggish (earlier versions of HTC’s Sense spring to mind), and all the eye-candy in the world won’t make up for a device that can’t keep up with its user.
Of course, it may be some time before anyone in this neck of the woods actually gets to play with Sharp and Frog’s take on the Android UI. Sharp doesn’t have much of a presence in the mobile space outside of their native Japan — the company’s global device page is rather spartan, and their American portfolio consists of a single Android phone. The company’s Feel UX will make its debut on seven of Sharp’s newest Aquos smartphones, though with any luck their novel Android skin will give HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and the rest some more competition around these parts soon.