HTC Launches Their New Developer Center

This week, phone and tablet manufacturer HTC launched HTCdev.com, the HTC Developer Center. Read on to find out what’s in store, and why this matters to you.

What’s in the Developer Center?

HTCDeveloperCenterFrontPage

The front page of HTCdev.com.

HTCdev.com provides access to three main things:

The OpenSense SDK

This SDK (Software Developer Kit) plugs into the standard Android developer tools, and contains:

  • Common Controls: a collection of components that have the look and feel of Sense, so developers can make their apps fit in with the HTC UI.
  • Stereoscopic 3D tools: allows developers to create apps which use the glasses-free 3D display of phones like the EVO 3D.
  • Tablet Pen tools: lets developers detect the stylus used in tablets like the HTC Flyer or EVO View 4G.

Unlock Bootloader Tool

A couple of months ago, HTC announced they’d no longer be locking the bootloaders on any new devices. This new tool (which hasn’t actually been released yet) will allow you to unlock the bootloader on your existing device, from before this announcement.

In other words, it’ll let you root your HTC phone or tablet without having to take the long way around. It’ll still void your warranty, but at least HTC are actively giving you the choice now.

Kernel Source Code

Think of the kernel as the official ROM — a tailored version of Android — that a device runs on; in HTC’s case this is built to suit the particular phone or tablet. HTC have released the source code for the kernels of all of their current Android devices (even differentiating between the Eclair, Froyo, and Gingerbread versions of what runs on the HTC Desire) for anyone to download and examine.

What Does This All Mean?

If you have an HTC and you like Sense UI, it’s great news! The OpenSense SDK means that more apps and games will be able to use Sense’s capabilities and imitate its look and feel. Personally, I’m curious to see what developers will do with the Stereoscopic 3D, now that it’s easier to work with. I don’t imagine that Nintendo, with their flagging 3DS sales allegedly due to competition from mobile games, are too happy about the news.

If you have an HTC and you don’t like Sense UI… it’s still great news! The release of the Unlock Bootloader tool will mean that it’ll be even easier than before to root your phone and load a custom ROM. And the release of the kernel source code means it’ll be even easier for ROM developers to make custom ROMs for HTC devices, since they can take a look at the way the official kernels work, and how they have been optimised.

This also ties in nicely with the spirit of Android as an open source platform. Okay, sure, the OpenSense SDK is apparently limited to HTC devices, so you won’t be seeing apps using the official Sense UI components on a Samsung Galaxy, but this seems fair coming from a hardware manufacturer. Granting users the freedom to install whatever ROM they want — whether it’s the latest CyanogenMod nightly, a completely different take on Android like MIUI, or just a version of Android that hasn’t yet gained an official OTA update — suits the general feeling of freedom that I love about Android as well.

It’s a good time to be an HTC owner!