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HTC Sense gets HTCDev development kit and exclusive apps

HTC has opened up its HTC Sense platform to developers, allowing the development of apps that extend Android and take advantage of its phones and tablets.

HTC has given mobile app developers a treat, opening up its HTC Sense software and allowing applications to be designed specifically for its phones and tablets.

HTC pleased users last week when it said it would be unlocking the bootloader on its devices, allowing them to be rooted. Now it's hoping to appeal to developers with its HTCDev platform, announcing the news in a tweet.

HTCDev is designed to be a complete community for those who want to write apps that go beyond what bog-standard Android can do and are optimised to take advantage of HTC devices. It will include a platform for app promotion, which makes sense -- these non-standard apps won't sit comfortably in the official Android store.

The HTC OpenSense software development kit (SDK) hasn't launched yet, but several big-name developers have already created HTC-friendly apps, including Picasa, Google, LinkedIn and Gameloft.

Software additions to basic Android functionality are a mixed bag. We're all for getting the most out of each device, but it could easily lead to fragmentation and confusion for the end user -- at least, the average person who doesn't have hacker tendencies.

It can be hard enough to explain why you can't put iPhone apps on an Android phone. Soon users may wonder why they can't use some of the apps they downloaded for an HTC phone on their brand new non-HTC Android phone. We already know Sense 3.0 won't work on older HTC phones. While it might well offer cool new interfaces and widgets, it's also a way to lock in users like Apple does.

Add to that an increase in the number of places to download apps, like Amazon's offering, and you have the potential for a right old mess. We've already seen what happens when a manufacturer fudges things up (yes, you Sony Ericsson) and makes you hop all over the Web to find the apps you want.

It could also melt the Ice Cream Sandwich dream of timely, consistent updates.

All that said, we don't want to dampen the idea completely. Let's see what cool toys developers create to complement HTC's new gadgets.