WTF is... HTC Edge Sense?

The squeeze-able sides of the HTC U11 - explained

Get ready to hear a whole lot more about Edge Sense - HTC is lining up the touch-friendly tech to be as big a deal as Force Touch on the iPhone, kicking things off with the U11 flagship phone.

But what the heck is it, which phones are getting it, how does it work and, most importantly... should you care?

We've sifted through the marketing spiel to find the facts. Here's everything you need to know.

What is Edge Sense?

Basically, think of Edge Sense as touch-sensitive side panels that run up the edges of your phone. Give 'em a squeeze and they'll act as buttons, doing pretty much anything you assign them to do.

HTC reckons this is a more 'intimate' form of touch, and could come in handy for anyone that struggles with tiny touch screens.

The tech can detect two forms of squeeze - short ones and long ones. Each one can so something different, depending on what app you're in or whether the screen is on or off.

You get an onscreen prompt to show you when the Edges are sensing a squeeze, but you can turn it off if you find it distracting,

It's easy enough to adjust the amount of pressure you need to apply, so you don't feel like you're crushing your phone every time you want to use a shortcut key.

This is also where you'll find the training demo, which has you blowing up party balloons with each squeeze.

WHAT SORT OF SHORTCUTS?

Out of the box, Edge Sense will work with HTC's pre-installed apps. That means squeezing to launch a particular app, turning on the LED flash to use as a torch, or taking photos without having to tap an onscreen shutter button. It'll work when the screen is off, too.

A long squeeze will open Google Assistant, even in standby, without having to say a trigger word first. In case you wanted your 2017 smartphone to act like a walkie talkie from the 1980s.

Developers will be able to add Edge Sense support to their apps, so you won't be limited to HTC's own. There's even an app on the way that'll let you create your own bespoke shortcuts for any app installed on your phone - whether it has Edge Sense support baked in or not.

Think being able to squeeze to shuffle in Spotify, or squeezing to stop and start a workout in Strava. The app won't launch until July, but by that point the first Edge Sense phone (the U11) should be on sale.

Which phones will get Edge Sense?

Right now, just one - the HTC U11, the newly-announced flagship phone that replaces the HTC 10 as king of HTC's current range. You can get all the details in our hands-on review.

If Edge Sense is as successful as HTC hopes it will be, though, expect to see it in plenty more HTC phones in the near future.

Whether HTC will ever share the tech with other companies is still a mystery right now, though.

Is this really a big deal?

Yeah... kind of.

HTC is no stranger to gimmicks, having crammed a second screen on to the HTC U Ultra, but Edge Sense won't drain your battery, doesn't add any extra bulk to your phone, and can be squeezed into any handset - not just the crazy expensive ones.

If HTC goes all out with the tech, it could be appearing in a lot more phones.

Whether it'll ever be as ubiquitous as Force Touch on Apple's iPhones, though? We'll just have to wait and see how popular the U11 proves to be once it goes on sale.

Buy the HTC U11 here from Carphone Warehouse