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Sharp’s Feel UX Android Skin, This is What They Call “Simplifying”

Sharp, whose AQUOS smartphones are quite successful in Japan, have teamed up with frog to create a new Android skin named Feel UX. By making the user experience more focused on the user’s content (pictures, agenda, notes), Feel UX is Sharp’s approach at allowing owners to feel more in control of their devices:

By simplifying the interaction model and reducing clutter through a more curated experience, it will be immediately apparent to customers how to use the phones and make them more personal.

From the preview we see in the below video, Sharp is attempting to achieve an experience that is centered around multimedia, but want it to also be simplistic and easy on the eye. They have replaced icons with huge matte boxes and their stock icons that seem to take up half the display while leaving little room for much else.

On the other hand, the lockscreen does look like a keeper. It has impressive music controls and notification shortcuts, but I don’t feel that having a swipe-able photo gallery is really necessary. In short, I wish they just made the lockscreen a downloadable feature and left the rest out.

The new skin will be available this year over in Japan, but we do hope it finds a way over to the US somehow just so we can give it a good try.

frog Redefines Android Experience

The new Sharp AQUOS smartphones with Feel UX, designed by frog, will be available in Japan summer of 2012.

TOKYO, June 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — Leading design and innovation firm frog today announced that it has partnered with Sharp Corporation (Sharp) to create “Feel UX”, a new Android smartphone experience that is easy to use, highly personalized, and visually stunning. The collaboration brings together a global interdisciplinary team of strategists, designers, and engineers across both companies to design a distinctive and meaningful connected experience for the next generation of Sharp’s AQUOS smartphones.

According to global business analytics firm comScore, four out of five mobile phone users in Japan currently own a feature phone. However, in February 2012, the number of purchased smartphones surpassed the number of feature phones over the same period. This signals an ever-increasing importance for handset manufacturers to design and develop compelling and differentiated smartphone experiences for consumers.

“To capture the expanding market of smartphone users, we wanted the new Sharp AQUOS handsets to be a unique kind of Android experience, to look and feel different and standout from competitors,” said Paul Pugh, Vice President, Creative, Software Innovation at frog. “By simplifying the interaction model and reducing clutter through a more curated experience, it will be immediately apparent to customers how to use the phones and make them more personal. In addition, the design caters to current Android users by giving them new tools to organize and optimize their handsets, while personalizing the phone in ways not previously possible.”

The newly designed “Feel UX” for Sharp’s AQUOS smartphones will be available in Japan during the summer of 2012 and include the following features:

Personalized and innovative lock-screen experience, allowing users to browse photos and widgets without unlocking the devices
Real-time weather display motion experience and animation
Desirable, gender-neutral palette and visuals
Streamlined, curated home space to smoothly manage applications, widgets, and shortcuts

“frog was chosen as Sharp’s innovation partner because of the company’s unique combination of consumer insights, strategy, design, and software engineering capabilities,” said Itsuki Kouchi, Division Deputy General Manager, Global Product Development Center at Sharp. “Through our collaboration with frog, we have adopted an advanced approach to Android’s concept, features, and philosophy, creating a distinctive device that will ultimately increase the life of the product and enhance customer satisfaction.”

  • feztheforeigner

    Where’s the YouTube video?

    Stuck on loading…

  • http://profiles.google.com/morganfboyle morgan boyle

    Google doesnt want OEM’s to create a crazy looking skin, so they create a GREAT looking UI that regrettably only available on NEXUS. soooo, lets home them release there own Home Launcher so that all users can go “stock” with the download of a single app.

    train Carrier employee’s about it and they can tell the customers that its available to download.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sergiobridgett Sergio Bridgett

    yes to that lockscreen. NOOOOOO to the rest of it! that is an awful replacement for a “home” screen

  • androidcomplex

    I find the android device an excellent and adding more securities to it is simply amazing.

    android

  • JohnPA2006

    I just threw up a little in my mouth. Oh God !

  • http://twitter.com/dubius David Du Buron

    Looks like an Android and a Windows Phone had a baby.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyACE562 GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

    Yuck. ANOTHER skin. {{v_v}}

  • http://www.facebook.com/objection89 Miguel Angel Portela

    I love this. It’s simple, elegant and professional which frankly, is very overdue on Android. Even stock tend to look a bit cartoony. Sense? TW? Good functionality but just too cartoony. Sure you could customize icons but who has the time? More professional designers should work on Android Phones.

  • anthonymcneil85

    This looks pretty solid. It seems to have lots of intuitive swipes and gestures, I like it.

  • Diablo81588

    Worst launcher I have ever seen. Lock screen is pretty neat though.

  • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

    I guess that I’m not as much of a stock Android purist as some others here, because I think this UI looks rather interesting. Clean. Minimalist. Contextual.

    I think that I am starting to look at the devices and skins like a housing subdivision. It’s kind of boring if all of the houses look the same. I like a little variety. A colonial here. A classic ranch over there. An Arts and Crafts bungalow down the street. Of course, there’s always one neighbor (ahem…LG) that takes things too far and makes everyone rally for uniformity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/objection89 Miguel Angel Portela

      I’m right there with you. I find stock boring. So so painfully boring. This is so professional and sleek.

      • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

        ICS is not bring. ICS is fine and get’s work done. But this one is looking better. Loved the lock screen. Hate the huge icons in app drawer though.

  • mini-me

    I need the apk for this quick ;-)

  • G

    Android needs simpler and prettier interface. I think this Feel UX looks better than stock android and easy for most people. Stock ICS is ugly and geeky thats one reasony Galaxy Nexus is not selling well. I have both 4S and One X and only use 4S these days. People reading these tech websites (including me) don’t represent the major buyer base.

    • PC_Tool

      “Galaxy Nexus is not selling well”

      How do you figure that?

      • g

        My friend in Samsung marketing told me Nexus is not doing selling well. That’s why Samsung only released sales figures of S2, Notes and S3 pre-order becuase they sold millions. Google lowered Nexus to $399 in USA vs apple store 4S unlocked $649. iPhone holds value due to strong demand.

        • PC_Tool

          “My friend in Samsung marketing…”

          I see. Where’s my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meme when I need one…

          /smh

        • http://www.facebook.com/objection89 Miguel Angel Portela

          It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t selling well. They’re always going cheap these days.

  • Dylan Bourque

    I agree that the lock screen looks promising. The rest … meh. Stock FTW!

  • fauxshizzl

    “In short, I wish they just made the lockscreen a downloadable feature and left the rest out.” Funny, that’s how I feel about skins in general.

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    Yes, this is what we need; more skins. That way when people switch from one Android phone to another they get confused on how to use it, blame Android, then switch to an iPhone because they’re “easier to use”. This kind of garbage only hurts Android. Google needs to put their foot down.

    • frankandsimple

      open source is a double edged sword.

      • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

        True, though I do know that Google has absorbed some of the best features from OEM skins and developer ROMs over the years, so that’s good.

    • PC_Tool

      I am so confused by that statement.

      Isn’t the reason we love Android *because* we can throw our own launchers, skins, widgets, and what-not on it to make it “our own”???

      Hell yeah, we need more skins…and we need to be able to swap them around like kindergarteners swapping germs. :-D

      I believe it would be a pretty safe bet that if you brought together 100 AOSP users, you’d end up with 100 completely different-looking devices that act and work in completely different ways.

      • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

        Us customizing our phones does not equal OEMs F-ing up Android from the get go. It’s one thing to let us apply skins and launchers via apps in the play store, it’s another thing entirely to force those things upon us and not let us remove them. You can customize the hell out of your car too, but it doesn’t roll out of the factory that way. Everyone’s car is the same when it’s produced, which gives everyone a stock experience that is easy to understand. Then from that base, the experienced users can customize their experience if they want via ROMs, development, or addons from the play store. I simply want stock from the OEMs, but I’m fine with any numbers of customizations available from the dev community. I just get so sick and tired of hearing people blame Android for broken OEM crap. My dad hates his Droid X because of the crap Motorola put on that thing. I could solve it all if he would just let me put stock Android on it.

        • PC_Tool

          “Everyone’s car is the same when it’s produced”

          Really? Park assist, manual vs. automatic, dial placement, instrumentation and placement…all wildly different from manufacturer to manufacturer. (heck, even from model to model…the inside of a manual Yaris is vastly different than the inside of the Prius or Camry)

          This is one situation where the car-analogy fails miserably….don’t even get me started on US vs. UK, luxury vs. compact-budget.

          Regarding the X, what was so wrong with it that ADW or Zeam couldn’t fix? (The only difference then between the X and any other device would be the “settings” menu and their phone-specific apps (dialer, contacts, etc)?

          I’m not arguing to argue, I am genuinely trying to figure out how you came to be of this opinion.

          • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

            I came to this opinion because OEM skins are all awful. Hardware manufactures need to be just that, hardware manufactures.

            Also, ROMs are not the answer. Your average user doesn’t know how to install a ROM. All they know is the garbage skin, which, for the most part, makes the Android experience worse, not better for the user and tech support.

          • PC_Tool

            …stupid disqus

          • PC_Tool

            die disqus, die…

          • PC_Tool

            “I came to this opinion because OEM skins are all awful.”

            I guess that’s as valid as any other opinion. I actually Like TW, and I know there are a lot of folks liking the latest Sense..

            “Also, ROMs are not the answer.”

            Never said it was. Never even mentioned it.

            …I did bring up launchers though, which are available through the Play Store (ugh..), and do not require any technical skill…and these effectively change the OEM skin for most things the user sees on a casual basis.

            I have seen the “fragmentation” argument used many times regarding app compatibility and I do, to a degree, understand some of those arguments (regardless of whether or not I actually agree with it being worth the amount of noise made about it)…but I don’t understand it regarding “skins”…especially with ICS, where the “bloat”, as it were, can easily be disabled…without rooting.

            *shrug*

            Dunno, man. I always thought of Android as the one we like because it is so varied and variable. Seeing that as a negative is just…foreign to me, I guess.

          • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

            Again, I agree with you about an advantage of it being “varied and variable”, but that’s only if it starts off with a pure base. I want the OEMs to give us a stock base to start with, then we can change it from there. Don’t force upon us what you think Android should be.

          • PC_Tool

            Okay. I get it now. You want a larger choice of “pure” devices. Makes sense. I believe Google is working towards that with a variety of Nexus devices…the rumor is, what…5?

            I think, IMO, that this is probably the best compromise, realizing that the OEMs also want to “make it their own” and “differentiate” themselves from the others…and that their ability to do so is one of the big reasons why they took to it like they did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/objection89 Miguel Angel Portela

      That argument is getting so old so fast. Some people like these OEM skins. I like them too, depending which of course. Stock vanilla Android had it’s time in the sun and still does here and there. THe people who complain about OEM skins are usually smart enough to know how to remove it so I never understood the complaint. Don’t like the skin? Root and debloat. Half the time that’s what most Android users do anyway. Can’t root? Use a launcher. I like that oem’s use skins because it adds variety. Why do I want to pay money for something that’s hardly any different from another? If all phones ran on stock, it’d just be iOS with different hardware each time.

      • PC_Tool

        “Can’t root? Use a launcher.”

        This will be even better in ICS (when they start pushing it to more devices) as you can disable the “bloat” along with adding a new launcher…making the OEM skin issue even more of a non-issue.

  • NicholasMicallef

    Where are my homescreens :O? it does look like you can only use the app drawer with an added shortcuts tab… here come apple lawsuits for using the app drawer as a home screen. xD
    It does look nice though and probably is good for people who don’t care as much about customization or how efficient it actually is to use. If I had a phone with this UI I’d probably use it for a few weeks and then switch to CM.
    It looks like it could cause problems with custom launchers though, since there are no separate home screen and app drawer.

    • JoshGroff

      I believe custom launchers run instead of the native launcher when set as default. Therefore, there should not be a problem with Feel UX not having an app drawer.

      • NicholasMicallef

        Yes but most custom launchers make use of an app drawer button, and since the app drawer is the native launcher in this case, what would the app drawer button be linked to? the native launcher?

  • http://twitter.com/CurrentWeb CurrentWeb

    I actually really really REALLY like this. A lot. It’s a mix between Launcher7’s vertical widget view and ssLauncher’s multiple screen implementation.
    I would seriously install this as a launcher, it looks perfect for my tastes.

  • New_Guy

    I am always going to go stock over OEM skin. But, as far as OEM skins are concerned, this one is pretty nice.

  • EC8CH

    LEAVE ICECREAM SANDWICH ALONE!

    • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

      Seriously, If I can do it on my phone now, I do it on my Gnex. I used to think Windows 7 on my laptop was the most elegant UI. Now ICS is. But these horrid skins are ruining everything…

      ICS is fantastic as is. I really don’t understand these manufacturers of HARDWARE who all of a sudden think they are software masters. If you can’t do a better job that stock Google, why go forward? Seriously?

      It would be like pinch hitting for Josh Hamilton with the game on the line and putting in some kid out of triple A, just because he’s your son. And then acting like it’s ok cause “he’s still a Ranger” in the same sense that these brutal skins are “still Android.” Idiotic? Yep….

      • Rotkaeqpchen

        @EC8CH Then you should not buy a Sharp Product, … Wasn’t THIS fact, that every manufacturer can deliver a customized experience to their customers, that makes Android so attractive? I, personally, love the new MotoBlur UI and the Tasks app for example. Would you force Ubuntu users to use only Unity, to not install any custom theme and personalize their system? Then you must be Apple!

        • PC_Tool

          Those who hate skins, amusingly, are usually the ones who know best how to get rid of or avoid them…and yet they feel the need to basically put down *anyone* who’s purely subjective opinion does not match their own purely subjective opinions.

          In the Android community, where “choice” and “variety” are praised as the very spice of Android, this attitude is shameful and highly suspect of trolling.

    • PC_Tool

      Tell that to the CyanogenMod folks….

      …or Roman Birg….

      It seems the majority of us running ICS prefer it heavily messed with. ;-)

      • michael arazan

        Hey SHARP, just make a multimedia app, why make it your whole skin for a phone?!
        Google coming out with their Unskinned skin. To brand for those chuckle heads who think skins are better.

      • KleenDroid

        I agree, we love our roms. Actually I don’t care if there is a skin on a phone as long as it’s unlocked so I can make whatever changes I want to if any.

    • http://twitter.com/reggie1225 Reginald Jefferson

      Leave it to EC8CH to express our sentiments in the shortest yet sweetest manner. +2

  • Tristan Cunha

    This doesn’t look like an improvement, at least in terms of simplicity and ease of use. It’s got some neat features, but they actually look more complicated than stock ICS to me.
    Also, it’s really tough to get excited about all the work these companies do to “improve” android when they never submit it to the AOSP. They’re perfectly happy to get the free OS, but then they want to create a “competative advantage” by throwing some skin on top of it.
    If anything it seems like the most popular, or at least most requested version of Android is stock. If you want to make changes, put your developers to work improving the stock experience, submit the changes, and then your competitive advantage can be your customers getting those changes first.

  • https://plus.google.com/110773438514346746273/ tjhrulz

    Wanna know how to make users feel in control of their device? Leave it stock and unlocked.

  • JoshGroff

    Pretty interesting, I’d definitely give it a go.

  • Gimp_Ninja

    My gut reaction was “what the heck, another manufacturer custom UI?” But I think I’d actually like this one. Then again, I like to use a one-homescreen setup with folders.

  • sc0rch3d

    alas, i wish the manufacture d-bags thought about us in the enterprise that are required to have PIN lockscreens that can only show some weather / batt life / limited music controls. we want MOAR (and no, i’m not talking bout having a gummy-like lockscreen that only serves to then require a PIN unlock behind it)

    • https://plus.google.com/110773438514346746273/ tjhrulz

      AOKP has as much info on the secure lock screen as the stock normally, it also lets your chose to show the stock lock screen first. Maybe try that? (I also believe that CM9 has similar options)

      But I hear you that we need a nicer secure unlock screen.

      • sc0rch3d

        tried AOKP and my current rom (cmplx_b1ack) does similiar. i get how security protection prevents invasion at the same time. just frustrating. :)

        • https://plus.google.com/110773438514346746273/ tjhrulz

          Yeah I hear you, personally I would just have it set to show stock lock screen first but that cause face unlock to randomly not start up about 60% of the time :(

    • MikeCiggy

      I’m rite behind you how hard would it be to make the pin unlock dialog smaller and leave room for my music controls!!

      • https://plus.google.com/110773438514346746273/ tjhrulz

        On ICS I am pretty sure it does

  • nwd1911

    It is different and some people call that fragmented and/or horrible. There are a few features that looked interesting to me: lockscreen and scrollable home screens. Would love to see a real world hands on of the UI. Definitely a different look at Android, but some people might like it.

  • http://twitter.com/SR31 Stephen Rice

    When are the OEM’s going to figure out that stock is easier than any UI out there.

  • DanWazz

    Looks like they just did away with the homescreens and added “shortcuts” to the app drawer.

    Plus, lol at Scott Pilgrim sending that person a text message.

  • Guest

    very lame skin.

  • lolfail

    i wish that it was a hands on video so you could see how it actually performs

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

      That’s why we hope it finds a way over here for us to really try out :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407153173 Paul Hunter

    this is really lame

  • Mordecaidrake

    This is awful, and they wonder why people say Android is difficult to use.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

      Android is what you make it… plan and simple. This might work wonders for some people.

      • New_Guy

        I actually like what I see from the video. Granted, I will always choose stock over anything else, but at least Sharp attempted something that seems quite gorgeous.

        • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

          I’m pretty much in the same boat… I don’t think it’s horrendous by any means, but I prefer my stock Nexus for sure.