Sony's decision to drop the Walkman brand from its music app left people strangely upset, but maybe this will cool some hot heads. The latest update of the beta music app adds Google Cast support. It's "experimental," but it's better than nothing.
Some of Sony's older hardware (well, relatively speaking, anyway) is getting updated to Lollipop today. If you own an Xperia Z (LTE model), Xperia ZR (LTE model), Xperia ZL, or Xperia Tablet Z, all released in 2013, check your status bar for an over-the-air update. According to Xperia Blog and the always-reliable XDA, all four of these devices are being upgraded as of now. As usual, it may take a few days or even a week or two for the rollout to reach you.
Sony is continuing its odd support for modifications and software based on Android's open source core. Today they're releasing a collection of flashable recovery partitions for some phones - technically these count as "custom" recoveries, but they're based on AOSP, and therefore pretty close to what you'd find on Nexus devices. Sony's intro video does state that the recovery can restore data, flash custom ROMs, and boot to multiple ROMs, something that most stock recoveries can't handle.
Android TV may look different from vanilla Android, but underneath that tiled interface is the same operating system you know and love. That means it's possible to sideload whatever APKs you want. The thing is, without a touchscreen, most of them are pretty useless.
Take the regular Amazon Instant Video app. Besides requiring that you have the general Amazon app installed first, it fails to provide a passable experience on Android TV (which lacks an officially sanctioned Instant Video app because Amazon).
When I was in Istanbul last week, I saw street vendors waving selfie sticks (aka the wand of Narcissus) and offering for a few liras to hold your phone so you can take a selfie from a better angle. If something hits the hawker market, it's safe to say that it's pervasive and in-demand. That's the angle that the newly announced Sony Xperia C4 is coming from. Sony even has a name for all the cool selfles that this smartphone can take — PROselfies. Because regular selfies aren't enough.
The recipe for cooking up a PROselfie involves a 5MP 25mm wide-angle lens with Sony's Exmor R sensor, a soft LED flash, and HDR for balancing the exposure as much as possible and capturing both you and your background clearly.
Sony's upcoming Smart Bluetooth Speaker BSP60 (announced at this year's Mobile World Congress) is a tad on the cute side. It sits on your desk like an unassuming black ball, but that changes as soon as the music starts. Then its circular "ears" pop out and start glowing. Wheels on the bottom let the thing move in place like it can't fight the music. It's almost enough to make a grown man squee.
If you live in Europe, you can now call dibs on one of your own. Just know that it will set you back 300 euro. That price isn't nearly as endearing.
To address several relatively minor problems and requests, Sony's Xperia Z2 and Z3 devices will be getting an update to their firmware. They will remain on 5.0 Lollipop, which speaks to the fact that these are mostly optimizations rather than wholesale changes. The headlining feature is probably the fact that the app switcher now has a close all button, but there are some other goodies as well.
Another feature change is making the LED light independent of the sound settings. Previously, putting the device on silent also turned off the LED indicator. This was probably annoying, since the light is the exact thing you would want in place of audio.
Sony has recently been among the friendlier companies for custom ROM developers, but their devices still had a major hitch. They could not be booted from recovery, which meant third-party software had to modify the build system and if things went wrong, it was a lot more difficult to fix. To address this issue, Sony will begin releasing new bootloaders to allow booting from recovery.
This was first reported at FXP, home to developers who work exclusively with Sony devices to bring custom ROMs like CyanogenMod to end users. Official word should be coming soon, but the software is available to flash right now.