BlinkFeed on the HTC One

It's one of the more controversial moves a smartphone manufacturer has made in recent memory. HTC has pared down the out-of-box home screen experience, instead going with a single traditional Android panel, while opening up a world of news, updates and features, that's just a single swipe away.

This is BlinkFeed.

You could say BlinkFeed looks a lot like Flipboard -- and you'd be right. The slight difference in animations notwithstanding, what you've got is an extremely capable (if a bit limited in scope) feed reader. News, social networking updates, the ability to post your status -- it's all right there.

So why's it controversial? Unlike apps like Pulse or Flipboard or even Google Currents, which are traditional applications, BlinkFeed is baked into the phone itself, as much a part of the home screen as the home screen itself. It's there, whether you plan on using it or not.

 

Join the discussion in the HTC One forums

BlinkFeed

Setting up BlnkFeed takes just a few seconds. When you first get the phone, you'll see some dummy boxes inviting you to "get the latest news that matters" to you or to "connect and share with people from all your social networks." Tap one of the blue boxes to start the setup process.

BlinkFeedBlinkFeedBlinkFeed

The user interface is plain and simple. Choose your feeds, choose your categories, and you're up and running.

The feeds provided by Mobiles Republic run the gamut, but you do have a finite pool from which to chose. And, in this current form, you can't add your own feeds. What you see is what you get. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. The intention of BlinkFeed is to provide light "snacking" of information, not three-course meals. Like other graphical feed readers, it's so heavy with eye candy that hard-core news junkies will feel like they can't keep up.

So in the case of BlinkFeed, less may be more. It'll take some tweaking on the user's part (that's you) to get things dialed in.

Stories open within BlinkFeed. From there you can share them through the usual Android intents. Scroll to the bottom of a story and you'll find a link to open it in your browser. There's also an option to change font sizes. 

(Pro tip: When you're scrolling down through BlinkFeed, tap the notification bar at the top of the screen to hop back to the top. - Thanks, Shen Ye!)

BlinkFeed and Twitter, Facebook and more

Where it can be pretty powerful for more casual users is with social networking. If Facebook's your thing, just add your account, and flip on over to see what your friends are up to. Tapping an update opens the full Facebook app. Or, you can post a status update right from the BlinkFeed home screen.

The social services BlinkFeed currently can tap into are: Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter. It also can call from your calendar, HTC's new Zoe Share (for moving images), Kid Mode and TV (remember that the HTC One can serve as an infrared remote control).

Do I have to use BlinkFeed?

What if you don't want to use BlinkFeed? That's easy. Don't use it. (Watch: How to use the HTC One without BlinkFeed.) Some folks are all up in arms over it being a permanent home screen fixture instead of a killable widget. That's a valid concern, but it's also short-lived. It's absolutely possible to use the HTC One like a "normal" Android phone without BlinkFeed being in the way.

The bottom line

BlinkFeed is an interesting proposition. Smartphone nerds (at least the ones afraid of trying anything new) will hate the idea. But for "normal" users, it makes sense. My parents use Android smartphones. They've barely touched the things after two years. But set up BlinkFeed, and suddenly they've got a home screen full of new, regularly updating content. That's who BlinkFeed is for.

For the rest of us, it's a fun, relatively unobtrusive option that deserves tinkering with. The key will be finding the right feeds, perfect for snacking.

 

Reader comments

BlinkFeed: Inside the HTC One's home screen reader

74 Comments

I honestly think people will pass over this phone simply becasue at a quick glance, it looks like WP.

Sure, WP Live Tiles don't show pictures like this, but its VERY reminiscint of it. Only by playing with the device will they see that its an Android device. But it still leads to this problem: your average Joe may not know how to rid themselves of this screen. It's not as though HTC adds a tutorial on how to remove it as the main homescreen.

HTC is being different for the sake of difference and its a mistake. I'm all for them using Sense as a way to differentiate themselves, but it has to be for a good reason. Blinkfeed doesn't feel that way. It feels panicked and rushed.

Maybe after I play with it, I would change my mind. But as HTC said themselves, people don't like to tweak their phones after a month or so. For your average Joe, what if they never figure out how to rid themesleves of this?

Oh well....

Phil, who has actually used the phone, says Blinkfeed is just there and that if you dont want to use it then dont use it. IMHO that bothers me. I dont mean to rehash the other post but as some have said I would like to see it more as a widget where the user could just choose to remove it if wanted. Whether it can be ignored or not isnt really the issue. I like HTC and hope they get over this rough patch they are going thru and I could be wrong but I dont really see this direction working out for them

I disagree for two reasons.

a) WP is actually not bad. People like the simple square layout for a reason. It may drive away some new users looking for an Android experience but it may gain HTC some new fans.

b) Flipboard. People love that and from what I've seen, it's similar.

c) Android users are smart.

Agreed, especially w/ #1. And on top of that, as WIN8 becomes more prevalent the look of BlinkFeed will fit right inline with what people are going to be used to seeing anyway.

Two reasons you say?

In all seriousness, I agree - I think many people are afraid of change, to try anything different. I've pre-ordered the HTC One and fully intend to try the Blinkfeed out, and if I don't like it? Well, I will remove it. I cannot see why people have a problem with this. Most "normal" people, non-techies, use their smartphones to connect to social media to keep in touch with family and friends, which is why Blinkfeed is great. I think, sometimes, us techies need to look beyond what we think and at the bigger picture.

Thats funny, the 3rd line had the exact same effect on me :P

Dont get me wrong, some of the smartest ppl I know use an android... but since around 60% of all the ppl I know use android, the vast, vast, VAST majority are... well... not that smart to say the least...

I agree - used the Windows Phone 8X as my daily driver for a month, and it was overall a very nice experience - and I liked the live tiles. The only thing that drew me back to Android was the more developed app ecosystem, I was really missing a few key apps.

Also this negates the reason that Android is suppose to be able to customize it any way you choose. Not force crap down the customer's throat and decide for them what they need or want like apple does.

Where did you get that idea from? The only Android phones that are completely user customizable are the Nexus phones (and to a lesser degree "stock" devices not specifically called Nexus). The rest have manufacturer and carrier customizations and additions. That's the way it has always been and that is the way it will always be. If you don't like it either get a Nexus/Stock device, plan on ROMing all of your phones, or jump to a different platform.

Al those of you whining about Blinkfeed need to spend some time with the Fascinate or Revolution which had the Google services swapped out with Bing. Compared to that Blinkfeed is nothing. Ignore it or install a custom launcher an go about your business.

I get why people are saying that, but WP and BF just don't have the same feel to them at all, ya know? Squares are squares is all.

Apparently when certain American Android Central forum participants, a shallow group indeed, see squares they immediately encounter brain freeze and cannot further discern the functional differences between Windows Phone and HTC's Blink Feed. What an incredibly frustrating job you have Phil.

Blinkfeed might be awesome but I already have flipboard and it works great. HTC should have partnered with Flipboard and I would have taken a second look

No, people will pass this over because it's not a Samsung Galaxy. To your average person, the only "droid" phones that exist are Samsungs (currently the S3).

Simply not true.

I love the looks of the HTC One. It's sleek, professional looking, and down right sexy. I would consider purchasing this phone but sorry to say, this phone is not my cup of tea. Why you ask? I'll tell ya.

First, no removable battery.
Second, no removable storage.

I like having those options as to my personal preference. If it's not offered on any manufacturers phone then I will not purchase it which includes Samsung. But Samsung does. Besides, my S3, Samsung TV, and Samsung laptop (didn't plan it this way, it just happened) all work great together for a decent experience. As far as blinkfeed, I feel it should be able to be removed, not just "not used" while taking up space that will inevitably get in the way for those who won't use it. But to each his own. BF isn't a deal breaker for me...but my other points are.

If I want to snack I'll hit the fridge, other then that I use flipboard. Wish the hell it didn't come with it. I prefer to ad my own feeds, call me pig headed or Nerd or whatever. Still, I like that phone. Love the hardware, specs are pretty strong. Camera seems to work quite good. Very excited. I'll have to get the SGS4 as well. Being a Samsung fan and owner of all things named Samsung I couldn't leave this next great addition to the team on the shelf. I'll proudly carry the SGS4 as my every other daily driver to switch chores with the HTC One.

SON OF A BITCH! I was trying to be first but comments weren't on... oh well. I hate you.

I don't think it's different for the sake of being different. I don't know how much I will use it at first, but once it opens up to more content (ESPN and Yahoo! Sports, your local Patch, etc.) and possibly to allowing users to put in their own stuff, I think this can be great. And if someone buys this device and doesn't know it's Android they deserve to be mocked accordingly. If you use a smartphone you know how to swipe between screens. They all do it.

Different for the sake of being different? Hello S-voice.

Am I the only android nut that can't wait for Blinkfeed to come to my Droid DNA? Seriously people, don't like it, don't use it. Get NOVA or Apex or just don't use it. I love android and personally can't wait for this, it's so convenient and clean.

This new HTC phone home screen looks alot like a WINDOWS phone home screen. Combination of WINDOWS and ANDROID on the same device!!!

On a side note: Phil, I notice that it's raining this afternoon on Pensacola so... how 'bout you get crackin' on that review, huh? It's not like you can go outside and get stuff done. Let's not turn this into the EVO. That's right - you'll never escape that.

Since the new HTC One Superphone is so chock full of innovative hardware and software features as detailed on HTC's Website, I would prefer Phil take his time using this technological marvel to fully learn about, use, and provide his experienced professional opinion. I'm confident his thorough and objective review will be published before release giving us plenty time to determine how to buy it.

Then we can sort through the plethora of complainers, whiners, and ingrates who populate these forums to ferret out well thought out questions and answers.

I think about how i get my info and HTC is right little snacks. I get hungry i go find the whole article. I'm tired of getting phones over just hardware. I want a solid well built piece of hardware. I'm really considering this phone. Three days to build it is not just thrown together for the masses.

I am definitely a crack flasher but i want a phone that is top notch in all aspect build, hardware, and software. If HTC keeps up with updates this will be great. Also probably my next phone.

Honestly, Phil, you know I like you and your team but I truly feel like you guys are losing your objectivism. And not covering real news.

By this I mean the REAL quality control issues with HTC latest phones (8X, DROID DNA) which you guys dont comment on at all. And its like the ONE X & Its variants have suddenly disappeared. Just a few months ago your web site said "Buy the One X+!"

I love this site but being objective is not either the plan nor the goal. I am not grinding an axe when I say if you talk bad about a nexus, you are done on here.

Android is the focus, and it is as biased as fox news or msnbc. You will hear a bad word but it is in passing

Second and triple that. Two in the family. No problems whatsoever except for having to explain to people that it's not a galaxy thingy. You should see the look of envious discomfort everyone has upon seeing the screen. Think Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

The last place I expect to find objectivity is in the comments section of any news site. And just because you can outnumber Jerry or Phil's comments, it doesn't make you right. It just means you're probably still in high school and you need to get a life.

I don't think you're in the right place for 8X news. I can't comment on the DNA either, except my friends love their DNAs. My real comment is what do you expect? New phones get launched, so they get talked about. If everyone is talking about the new stuff, who's gonna talk about the old stuff? That's what the forums are for, until an older device gets an update - then you'll see it on the front page again for a day or two. Eventually the old phones are relegated to the back of the closet, including my beloved OG EVO. In a few days the HTC chatter will slow down and they'll rename the site Samsung Central for a while. Before HTC it was all Sony and LG and MWC coverage for what seemed like a fucking eternity. Nature of the beast, and all.

There you go again tim242 with your obnoxious and disrespectful off base statements.

What's flaming about Jerry's question?

"What issues with the DNA? Ours was rock solid, and everyone I know using one loves it."

OK obnoxious and disrespectful tim242...who are the "they" to whom you refer who throw flame balls?

This has become a habit... when I see you have the phone, I go to The Verge, and read an actual review. As usual, they do not disappoint, and you do.

I go there too. Then I wait for the real reviews after other sites have had the device for more than 48 hours. This isn't a murder investigation on CBS or A&E. If it takes longer than 48 hours, it's okay. We bust balls here that AC takes forever to get a review out but the fact is they put out a better review. A realistic review. I can tell you for a fact that no Android phone in my home (a dozen, at least) gets the same battery life a week into owning it as it did in the first day or two. But over at the verge, the battery life is shitty. As opposed to folks that have had the device for several and are USING it (not just reviewing it), giving us feedback on battery life. And at least here (and some other sites as well) we get some things thrown our way while waiting for the full review, i.e. BlinkFeed info. If you want a better review, go to the forums here or over at XDA. That's it.

When the guy @ the verge has the phone 2 days and has to do every possible thing with it in that time frame in order to write a "comprehensive" review... that's just pure bullshit. It's disingenuous at a minimum. Is that how you're going to use it? Nope. Nobody is. I want somebody to take the phone out of the box, post some neat shit about it, throw us a bone now and then, and use the device like they normally would. Like most of us normally would. After a week or so, write it up and let us know.

The verge... fuck that bullshit.

I like having both a quick and rushed 2 day review and a more comprehensive AC type review to read. Frankly, if you read a Verge 2 day review and an AC 7-10 day review they do line up pretty well. For a lot of us 1,000 words about Sense 5 is overkill. I feel like the Verge is more of a cliff notes version and the AC review is more like reading the entire novel.

Or, as you might put it, "I like short shit & long shit & can appreciate both of that bullshit";)

We keep hearing that the AC reviews are so much better. And then we read it, and there's nothing spectacular that the other reviews haven't said weeks before. The issue about battery life is about the only claim that you can make, but go back to every single phone review and read what they say about battery that is so revealing that warrants the 2 or 3 extra weeks. Or anything else, for that matter.

The Verge says the camera and Battery are just so-so. Giving the Camera a 6 out of 10 and the Battery 5 out of 10. Phil tests the device over a longer period and gives his honest review. I'll wait for Phil.

You guys are asinine. Since when has The Verge ever been non biased towards any phone that's not an iPhone? AC has always had fair reviews. Perhaps the guys here just really like the HTC ONE. Why does everyone expect a negative review of blinkfeed just because YOU don't like it?!

As much as we would all like to think that AC really nails their reviews for future buyers, I'm forced to disagree. I think it was the last EVO review that took forever and then didn't even do any low light comparison on the new revolutionary camera. This site has turned a bit more fan boyish unfortunately. The thing is that most Android users want the best and are interested in knowing what is wrong with something. Apple fans are terrified something might be better other than their holy device. We should all try to stay away from that. Phil needs to avoid the whole "it's fine just don't worry about it" Mantra about his HTC devices. I remember the multitasking garbage we had to listen to. It wasn't a first class feature and was a legit Con for the device but for some reason he defended it. That when you know things are eskew. Let's hope for better

Exactly. Always dismissive of the bad. I don't need to be told how to think. Put your review out, and let me decide if I like it. Do not tell me to just ignore annoying shit on a device that I have to look at and use every day.

That's an enormously dumb comment. You act like the review shouldn't have any opinion in it at all. If that's the case then you're really wanting just the spec sheets. If you see "annoying shit" on the device and then it's talked about in the review you've already determined that it's annoying to you. So why would you give two shits what the reviewer thinks about it? You can determine if it's annoying to the point of it being a deal-breaker or not.

I listened to that doorknob on the verge and his 6 minute review (way to really get in deep there). He didn't have all great things to say. I saw some of his points and dismissed others as being ludicrous, uninformed, premature or a combination of all 3. It sounds like you only buy devices that Phil and Jerry tell you to, but then you get mad when they don't act like you want them to. If this is the only site you go to for reviews then you're doing it wrong.

Of course his opinions will be a part of it. Just don't tell me to adopt them, and flame me if I don't.

At this time there is a developer in his moms basement working on a launcher that clones blink feed. It will happen

Seems kind of weird that Google+ isn't a choice as one of the social feeds.

Will it not be limited to Twitter's token limit? I'm pretty sure that was a noob question.

I thought I read somewhere that G+ is coming soon. I think the twitter issue is averted by using the stock app. It pulls the feed from the stock app and if you post anything, it pushes it through the stock app. It just displays it differently on BlinkFeed.

If someone said "coming soon," they didn't know what they were talking about. AFAIK there's no API for Google+. And the answer I got when I asked about supported Google+ was "not at this time."

And after working with the BF people a little, I'm pretty comfortable in saying if you don't have normal feed access to something, you're not going to see it here.

Which sucks. :(

You're right, that does suck. I'm hooked on G+ and having it right there in my face would be great for work.

P. S. Does "BF people" mean what I think it means?

BF = BlinkFeed

I'm disappointed about no G+ also since I have no desire to use Facebook or Twitter. I might now have the incentive to upload my photos to Flickr in addition to G+ and Box. I will use the HTC Zoe feed if there are others from whom I wish to receive feeds. I'm unclear how that functions.

I'll probably include a news feed or two like Rueters and AP. Too bad no Android Central so I suppose I'll have to stick with the AC widget on one of my home screen panels as well as the G+ widget.

If you subscribe to the Technology & Science > Mobile category you get AC and some of the other MobileNations content, but I agree it would be better of we had our own feed like The Verge and CNET.

It's not being overlooked or dismissed. BlinkFeed is what it is: not a widget, not an app, not something you can just get rid of. For better or worse, you have to take it or leave it right now. If you leave it, you won't get the phone. End of story. If you take it you have to make the best of it. At some point you'll be able to install the ROM you prefer. But until then the goal is to find a way to live with it if you don't like it. You do that by showing people why it might not be as bad as they think and also by explaining how to minimize it's impact, to the point of it having virtually no impact at all.

Regardless of the complaints here, HTC isn't getting rid of it. They certainly wouldn't even entertain the nonsense here, since none of us have actually seen it for ourselves. And for everyone who buys this phone and then continues to complain about BlinkFeed: please shut up, in advance.

Sorry, HTC; suddenly you wake up and start talking like this is your first Android phone.

Android users like customization. We want our feeds WHERE we want them, HOW we want them and WHEN we want them. You just drove a nail in that flexibility by not allowing us to add our own feeds, decide our own order, etc. Who wants that?

Most of us don't tweak our phones after a month or so because, well, we TAKE a month or so to set up our phones just the way we like them. Then things like DashClock come along and show us new and better ways to customize it yet again.

This is the essence of Android. The way you seem to think, that essence needs to be tempered and enclosed in a walled garden. You know, most Android phones INVITE new users to add apps and widgets to home screens. An iOS users or any Android user picking up One for the first time might not even KNOW it can be customized.

And do you, HTC, remember your own feature that is considered iconic? The weather widget! What do people add below the weather widget? Usually eight shortcuts to apps or folders, or maybe a calendar widget. Do they get all that with BlinkFeed? Do they even have a use for an endless scrolling block of pictures and text, which they DID NOT customize, in the order they did NOT make?

In other words, someone who wants an iPhone WILL get an iPhone, regardless.

Get real. This isn't how you'd win back hardcore Android users. And believe it or not, while we may be in minority, we are the ones advising our friends on what Droid to get. Think about it.

Umm... you know that this is just 1 panel, right? You can have lots of panels. And you can designate a different panel to be your home screen. And I'm pretty sure this entire article is about how to customize BlinkFeed.

I agree, my first android phone was the HTC Evo 3d. before scoffing, it does 2 things that are hard to find now, massive upgradable batteries and 64gb sdcard, and multi-tasked correctly compared to the evo 4g lte I mistakenly upgraded to.
I don't know how good the new htc is or not, but at a glance it doesn't appear they're going in the direction that would appeal to me. Not saying that they need to, just a comment on an android site.

I feel kinda sad for HTC, they have had money problems and make a big evolution from last years phone, a real stunning looking device and all everyone talks about...something they hate.

I can see why a lot of android users are complaining but you can ignore it I suppose, I personally don't like it but they are going after the casual person instead just ask Nintendo and their wii how well a device can do when going after the casual person.

Thanks Phil for continuing to post articles delving into the features of this most intriguing phone.

My guess is that people will pass on this phone because it just can't compete with the brand of "Samsung Galaxy".

Knowing HTC, this phone will be better built with a more interesting design, but it won't matter.

Regarding BF and Sense, there is no need. I would say only that to the HTC top brass if I ever had the chance. Its like they've never used stock JB.

And apparently think these software mods are going to help them compete. They are completely wrong. People care about battery, screen and camera, and finally apps. Touch wiz hasn't sold a single SGS3.

My only problem with Blink Feed is not being able to remove it from the home screen if I want. If HTC gave me a choice I wouldn't mind it at all.

If I can't remove it, I don't want it. Sure I could replace it with a different launcher and just remove, freeze or disable the stock launcher, but I shouldn't have to. They're widgets. Why make them permanant? I love using widgets. I've been using Android Pro Widgets for quite some time now. They're setup the way I want them, though, and on the stock launcher. I've got Messaging, Timeline and Calendar on indvidual home screens. I like the way it looks. Plus, I can theme them.