Sony hasn't officially announced a second iteration of its SmartBand activity tracker, but it doesn't have to. It's already done the next best thing. Today it has launched a new companion app into the Play Store that's simply titled SmartBand 2.
The images from the listing give us an idea of what to expect. There's a heart rate monitor on the underside of the band, and one of the screenshots reads: The SmartBand measures your pulse at an even rate through out the day.
Sony doesn't have a huge presence in the US despite making a boatload of phones. Still, if you've got one, odds are good that you'll be seeing an Android 5.1 update in the coming months. The update will hit all Z series devices and a few of the mid-range models too.
Most over-the-air updates include a few bug fixes, maybe a new bloatware app or two, and are thus not really worth getting excited over. Not so for the latest addition to T-Mobile's customized version of the Sony Xperia Z3. In addition to the long-awaited upgrade to Android 5.0, today's update flips a software switch that enables access to band 12, the 700MHz spectrum that T-Mobile began using for LTE earlier this year.
Microsoft said today in a blog post that they have added 20 new partners to their roster of those who will ship their software on Android tablets. This comes on the heels of the relatively recent stable release of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for tablets running KitKat or newer. Just earlier this year, Microsoft reached a similar agreement with Samsung, Dell, and several other less-known OEMs. Today's headliners are Sony and LG, but many more are included.
Sony has just announced the follow-up to its flagship device, the... why does it feel like I've written this story before? Oh, because I have. So a month after making its Xperia Z4 official in Japan, Sony is taking that device and releasing it with a more appropriate name for the global market: Xperia Z3+. Let's face it, the changes compared to the Z3 are minimal enough not to warrant a full number increase, so the switch back to the Z3+ is more honest on the company's behalf.
On the outside, the Z3+ looks almost exactly like the Z3, give or take a few slots and speaker grill placements.
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.
The new recovery is available on the Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia T2 Ultra, Xperia T3, Xperia M2, and Xperia E3, all of which need to be unlocked at the bootloader level and running the latest "generic" software from Sony.