Sony hardware fans, you've now got at least two more options when it comes to Android-based software. The current Sony flagship, the Xperia Z1, is now officially supported by the CyanogenMod ROM. The first CM 11 (Android 4.4) nightly build was posted to the CyanogenMod download page last night. There's also a new version of CM 11 built specifically for the Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition, the AOSP version of Sony's monster phablet on sale in the Play Store.
Sony bumped the Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra to Android 4.3 in December, but a new software build is starting to make its way to users starting today. This one has build number 14.2.A.1.136, but it's still Android 4.3 – Sony is just doing a little housekeeping.
— Sony Xperia News (@SonyMobileNews) January 30, 2014
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra has a 6.4-inch screen, which is dangerously close to the the tablet side of things. Apparently Sony agrees – a new version of the Xperia Z Ultra has been announced in Japan that does away with the cellular connectivity. Now it's just a tiny tablet instead of a monstrously huge phone.
How's that new Google Play Edition Xperia Z Ultra? Pocket-stretchingly good, you say? The Z Ultra's massive frame might be an advantage in some regards, but it's a problem in others – Sony's QX10/QX100 lens cameras don't mount quite right. The company will be rectifying that with a new Z Ultra case that has an attachment for the lenses, so you can finally rest easy.
In addition to things like stock Android and being carrier-unlocked, one of the big features of Nexus and Google Play Edition devices that Android power users love is an easily unlockable bootloader. While OEMs and carriers often make a policy of locking their devices' bootloaders to prevent installation of unauthorized software, Google makes it very easy for us to tinker with devices bearing its brand. All you really need to unlock a Google device is a tool called "fastboot," which is made available through the Android SDK.
In case you haven't been paying attention, there has been a storm of Android 4.4.2 updates for Google Play Edition devices over the past few days. It started Friday with the HTC One and Galaxy S4, and continued yesterday with the G Pad 8.3. Now, it's time for Sony Z Ultra GPE owners to get in on the action. The OTA weighs in at hefty 444 MB and, like all other recent GPE updates, will bring the phone up to date with current Nexus devices at Android 4.4.2/KOT49H.
As soon as the first orders for the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition began arriving at users' doors, the bug reports started rolling in. While this always happen with a new handset, two of the issues quickly emerged as critical. To be more specific:
It's been a busy week or two for Sony fans. First we get a Google Play Edition of the Z Ultra, then the AOSP On Xperia project expands to the low-cost Xperia L, and now owners of Sony's high-end phones are starting to get their long-awaited Jelly Bean 4.3 updates. According to this Sony blog update, both the Xperia Z1 and the enormous Z Ultra should be getting the over-the-air update starting today, at least for unlocked versions.
Earlier this week, Google rather unexpectedly announced two brand-new Google Play Experience devices (for the US only, of course) - the LG G Pad 8.3 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The G Pad 8.3 will set you back $350, while the Z Ultra is $650, though both devices rather undeniably fill niches in the Google device ecosystem. The G Pad acts as a mid-size tablet, a la iPad Mini, something a lot of enthusiasts have been asking Google to build for years now.