HTC is hardly unique in facing challenges updating its software for its Android smartphones – carriers must approve OS updates, including those for the UI skins that Android OEMs make for their devices, but it is trying something different to make it less of an issue. Sense 6 (which HTC annoyingly refers to constantly as ‘Sixth Sense,’ too) will have many of its core components broken up and distributed via Google Play.
Doing it that way means that HTC can update its software, including BlinkFeed, SenseTV, Gallery and others the way other developers do, pushing them through Google’s software portal and bypassing carriers altogether. It also enables HTC to distribute new Sense updates to older devices more easily, and the company plans to do just that by launching Sense 6 for its entire line of 2013 HTC One devices in April, too.
Android fragmentation is still a very real problem, and it’s not likely going to go away, but HTC is demonstrating that it wants to do as much as possible to keep its users on the latest and greatest with this unbundling of its system services. I’m probably more likely to just opt for the stock Android experience of a Google Play device instead, but if you’re going to offer a software experience on top, it’s best that you iterate on it diligently, too.