A designer at HTC posted a video of an unannounced buttonless smartphone named Ocean with "Sense Touch." The handset features a touch-sensitive frame that uses taps and swipes to replace physical buttons and adds a fresh new way of interacting with the device.
HTC has partnered with Google to build its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, which are expected to launch at a press event on Oct. 4. The two companies have a history of working together. Google commissioned HTC to build the first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, in October 2008 and again when it launched its first smartphone, the Nexus One in January 2010.
The Pixel and Pixel XL are expected to replace the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P and will be the first devices to ship with Android 7.1 Nougat. HTC has already promised to release an update to Android 7.0 Nougat for the HTC 10, One M9 and One A9, but it looks like the company is already working on some new software and hardware for future devices.
HTC product designer Danelle Vermeulen posted a video to her personal site, which shows an unannounced HTC smartphone and new feature called Sense Touch. Shortly after posting the video, the owner locked it down by requiring a passcode on her site.
As you can see in the video, which was captured by Evan Blass on his Twitter page, the HTC Ocean is a buttonless smartphone with Sense Touch. The new feature appears to build upon HTC Sense, which is the UX the company uses on its Android smartphones to make the devices easier to use. Sense Touch, as its name implies, is centered around an all-touch experience that uses taps, swipes and gestures in place of buttons. The frame of the smartphone also appears to be touch sensitive, allowing a user to intuitively increase volume while in the music application by sliding a finger up on the handset's metal frame or using a similar touch to launch Google's assistant to dial a contact.
Vermeulen says that the HTC Ocean video is merely a concept to showcase a typical project within HTC. 9To5Google contacted Vermeulen and was told, "Yes, this is just a conceptual piece and does not represent any real product from HTC."
While this may be a concept now, the thought, effort and potential for HTC to actually make Sense Touch a reality seems plausible as another way for it to differentiate itself from other Android smartphone makers. Samsung has used a similar move with the Edge screen and TouchWiz UX on its Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy Note 7.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) September 20, 2016