Sony, you really confuse me sometimes. The US is just about to get the Xperia Ion on AT&T, supposedly the Sony-branded flagship smartphone. The problem is that the Xperia GX just took that crown from the Ion - before it even came out. I'm not sure what Sony's grand master plan here is, but looking from the outside in, it seems like the company (that lost $5.7 billion last year - most of it in the fourth quarter alone) is flying completely and utterly blind.
All manufacturers want to make sure that apps work properly on their devices. Of course, the best way to make sure an app works on any given phone is to actually test the app on the device in question. For developers, though, that could cost a substantial amount of money - just think about how many Android devices are out there at the moment.
As an answer to this quandary, though, Sony has come up with a unique plan to allow developers to borrow Xperia devices.
Sony has done an excellent job at being transparent with its progress on the bringing Ice Cream Sandwich to a number of Xperia devices. It has kept users aware of what's going on throughout the process, as well as shared alpha and beta builds along the way. Now, though, it looks like the beta days are behind them and the build is ready for prime time for a certain Xperia devices.
Before Sony Ericsson became Sony Mobile, the company seemed committed to developing an Android 4.0 update, going so far as to release alpha ROMs for a number of Xperia devices, and more recently a beta for the Xperia Play. Here we are, a quarter of the way into 2012, and Xperia owners are still gnawing on last year's official Gingerbread. Although, there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel; the Sony Mobile blog has announced that the first Android 4.0 updates will roll out to select Xperia phones in mid-April.
Sony released the Xperia S open source archive today, providing all the tools necessary to build a kernel and start cooking up ROMs for the Xperia S from Sony's source code. In a post to Sony Mobile's developer blog today, the company also noted that the opening of the Xperia S archive marks the first time Sony has published source code for a product built around Qualcomm's Snapdragon S3.
The post goes on to advise that in order to flash the software, users will need to complete a few extra steps and run a special script (which is linked, along with a proprietary firmware file, in the original post).
Sony's portfolio of non-Ericsson branded phones has just received two more additions, though they aren't much more than variations than the already-announced Xperia S.
The Xperia P features: a 4-inch "WhiteMagic" display, optimized for viewability in direct sunlight (for comparison, the Xperia S has a 4.3" display). It also features a 1 GHz dual core processor, 8 megapixel camera, NFC, and HDMI connectivity. The Xperia P will also launch alongside the SmartDock, which allows content on the phone's screen to be streamed to a TV.
Back in December of '11, Sony [Ericsson] released an Android 4.0 alpha ROM for the Xperia Arc S, Neo V, and Ray. The Sony dev teams has now released an update to this ROM, bringing into its beta stages.
Since the previous release, Sony has made a number of improvements to the ROM, including an updated UI, improved lockscreen, activated GSM modem and FM radios, and a quick dialer.
Unfortunately, Google Apps are not available for this ROM, nor are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, as they're both still waiting for approval before they can implemented into the product.
We stopped by the Sony booth earlier this morning at CES, and got some hands-on time with the very first Sony smartphones (Sony-Ericsson is no more, subject to regulatory approval) - the Xperia Ion and the Xperia S. While these devices were designed before the Sony Ericsson breakup, they'll be marketed as Sony devices when they hit retail channels.
Update 12/21: SE published a blog post this morning vaguely detailing a timeline as to when ICS should start hitting devices. It looks like the Xperia Arc S, Neo V, and Ray will be the first to get the update sometime in late March/early April. After that, the Arc, PLAY, Neo, Mini, Mini Pro, Pro, Active, and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman will all receive the update as well, though no ETA for that bunch was given.