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Up close with the new HTC Sense

The Sense UI is the cornerstone of the HTC smartphone experience, and today it received upgrades in some key areas.

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Joseph Hanlon
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So just what has HTC been dreaming up? This was the question on the invitation we received to today's new smartphone and services launch, with HTC unveiling some important enhancements to its Sense user experience..

The big news came in two parts, with the announcement of two new and important (but not unique) services to be included in upcoming HTC releases. The first is HTC locations, a navigation app with full map downloads, so that users needn't have a data connection to use the service. They will have to pay for navigation though, buying into a short-term subscription.

HTC owners will also get access to a personal web portal at HTCSense.com. Users can have their phone back-up important data to the portal, including contact, settings and saved messages, and will be able to communicate with their phone through a web browser, which sounds an alert if the phone is missing, or remotely wiping data if it is completely lost.

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Come together

HTC has tweaked the unified mailbox to deliver a more solid alternative for business users, the company has even cheekily appropriated some of BlackBerry's most common keyboard shortcuts for the Desire Z.

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A cursory effort

The HTC virtual keyboard has also been given a very minor, but very useful makeover, with cursor keys being added for quick text amendments.

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Hallelujah!

If there's one thing missing from about 90 per cent of Android phones it's a cursor zoom for accurately repositioning the cursor when editing text. Well, HTC now has one, and it works exactly as you might expect it to.

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Walk this way

Adding navigation to Sense is a big deal, especially with screen sizes exploding to 3.5 inches and above.

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London calling

Showing a bit of HTC ingenuity, incoming calls don't take over the screen when you're using the phone's map to navigate, instead they are pushed to a fragment at the bottom of the screen.

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Party streamers

As important as maps are for competing with the likes of Nokia, HTC has also improved its multimedia capabilities by adding DLNA media streaming to both the Desire HD and Desire Z.

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BYO dongle

If you don't have a DLNA-capable TV — and let's face it, many of us don't — HTC will be selling an HDMI Wi-Fi dongle to connect to your TV or monitor and act as receiver and renderer.

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You feel me?

Alongside the list of upgrades for the Sense experience on HTC phones, the company also announced a new personal web portal for Desire owners at HTCSense.com. This site will backup user's data and provide the must-have business feature of remote wipe should you lose your phone. HTC is also promising to dish out some funky handset modifications through the portal as well.

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Texts from last night

Some texts you'll cherish forever, others you'll wish you never sent, but they all can be stored on HTSense.com. You can even search for old messages without having to scan through the thousands of saved messages you keep on your handset.

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Dude, where's my phone?

If you leave your phone at home you can use HTCSense.com to forward all incoming calls to a different number. If you've lost it under the cushions on the sofa, you can use the site to blast out your ringtone.

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Phones to write home about

Don't forget, HTC also launched the Desire HD and Desire Z. Check out our hands-on gallery with these sexy new smartphones by following this link.

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