In a gesture of good faith, Sony, on its developer blog, has announced the company is releasing the software binaries for the Xperia S. It has done so explicitly in support of Android developer JBQ's "experimental" support for the device in AOSP (found here). If you're unfamiliar with the project, we covered it earlier this month when it was announced.


The software binaries Sony released consist mainly of drivers for the hardware on the Xperia S's chipset. These binaries allow developers to get that hardware to function with non-OEM software. Manufacturers are generally under no obligation to make these binaries public, because they typically fall under the "proprietary" umbrella. Nexus devices, of course, have been an exception to this rule.

Good guy Sony has decided to release these binaries, and you can download it right now from the Sony Developer World site. The Developer Blog says that Sony hopes this will get developers far enough with AOSP support "to boot up and reach the homescreen." Sony is also quick to note, though, that even with these binaries, AOSP builds for the Xperia S may never reach a point where they are "stable and complete enough for daily use."

Part of this is likely because some of the drivers contained in the binaries doesn't belong to Sony. Much of it, predictably, belongs to the chipset manufacturer - Qualcomm. Qualcomm's terms of use for the drivers in question (which you are required to accept in order to download the Xperia S binaries) will probably prevent them from being added to the AOSP tree for the Xperia S. This explains Sony's cautious optimism on the project's feasibility. The man leading this effort, JBQ, has also made it clear that only original or properly licensed material can be contributed to the project in the first place.

So, while we may never have a "daily driver" official AOSP ROM for the Xperia S, it's clear Sony doesn't want to get in the way of achieving that goal. In fact, it's quite obvious they're actively encouraging it - one of Sony's senior engineers is even going to review and contribute patches to the project. This really doesn't come as a huge surprise, though. Sony, according to JBQ, has been the most active of any manufacturer in contributing to AOSP from day one. Sony's motives? Who knows. It could be the good press. It could be an active desire to improve the software on its phones. Or it could just be a directive to engage the developer community. Regardless, Sony continues to put its money where its mouth is on its commitment to Android at a deeper level, and that's more than we can say of most other Android handset makers out there.

Sony Developer Blog