Brian Smith, director of Open Platform for Sprint, told CNET that in addition to the expanded support, Sprint ID is changing going forward.
First, it won't be a "forced" experience as it was when it first launched at CTIA last fall. Instead of having to choose from a Sprint ID Pack after powering on your device, you'll now have a stock Android 2.2 Froyo experience that you can optionally customize with Sprint ID when you open the app. ID packs are the collection of wallpaper, widgets, and apps focused on a theme, like ESPN sports, or entertainment that comprises the Sprint ID offering. Sprint's Smith says its MTV, ESPN, and Yahoo ID packs are the most popular.
Second, the Sprint ID developers have worked on loading ID packs faster.
Both changes were designed to alleviate complaints (including ours) about the ID packs' slow start-up and load times, although Sprint's Smith says that the latter change will mostly affect first-timers. "[It] addresses some of the start-up problems we've seen on the initial launch," he told CNET in a briefing.
The news of a less intrusive Sprint ID is very welcome, but we have two quibbles. First, glad as we are that Sprint is listening to user complaints, we just wish they had conducted the bulk of their in-depth user behavior studies before launching Sprint ID, not after. That would have saved both Sprint and its customers some growing pains and headaches.
Second, as far as we're concerned, Sprint should still let device owners choose which components they want from a given ID pack before they download. As it stands, people who feel too bogged down with unwanted ID pack inclusions have to winnow the unwanted apps from the settings menu. When asked about this, Sprint's Smith said the carrier wasn't planning to allow this, citing that they didn't want to "limit" the publisher of the ID pack. We suspect they're concerned a move like that could alienate some of Sprint's most important partners, like Disney.
As for new packs, Sprint has acknowledged there's a series of partnerships in the pipeline, which we could hear about as soon as CTIA next week.
The new Sprint ID rolls out for the Epic 4G and Samsung Galaxy Tab beginning Monday. Eligible users will receive a software update notification. The Sprint ID app will then install in the app tray, not on the home screen.