Sony's relationship with "pure" Android is an interesting one. As a company they generally make it easy to root or otherwise modify their phones or tablets, with a few notable qualifiers. The AOSP for Xperia project, which provides the basic tools for building standard Android ROMs on popular devices, is also one way that Sony stays relevant for those who buy phones with the intent to add aftermarket software. Today it gets two new flagship options, the older Xperia Z1 and Z2.
When Sony debuted the Live on YouTube app last month, we wondered if compatibility would extend backwards to some other high-end Sony phones. The time is now, Sony smartphone owners... at least if you own one of three very specific models. Last year's flagship the Xperia Z1, its slightly smaller brother the Xperia Z1 Compact, and the high-powered Xperia ZL2 (which is only available in some Asian markets at the moment), all have access to the app as of now.
Outside of Google, it looks like Sony is the first company to start pushing 4.4.4 to its devices, beginning with the Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra. While it's only a very minor update, it still says something about Sony's drive to push timely updates that it's the first to get 4.4.4 out the door to consumer devices.
Included in this software
There are many improvements in this upgrade for your Xperia™ smartphone, some examples are:
- Android 4.4.4 including the latest enhancements and security updates from Google
- Updated and improved camera experience
- Improvements when using Google voice, Contacts, Music streaming and Google+
- The latest versions of our Sony apps for you to enjoy
- All of our latest bug fixes, optimisations & improvements
The update is currently only rolling out in Europe, but it will likely follow in other regions fairly soon.
Sony has been doing an admirable job keeping its Android hardware on the latest releases, and today they're bringing KitKat to three of the newest phones in their lineup. The flagship Xperia Z1, the slightly smaller Xperia Z1 Compact, and the super-sized Xperia Z Ultra all get an Android 4.4 upgrade starting now, according to this Sony Mobile blog post.
We haven't actually seen any updated devices from tipsters, and Sony makes the usual disclaimer that the rollout may vary by location and carrier.
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 has a solid track record when it comes to quickly making open source kernel files available to the public. The company released them for the T-Mobile exclusive Xperia Z1s last week on the same day that the handset launched in stores. Now Sony is following through with the Xperia Z1 Compact just after launching the phone in Europe.
These files are what developers need to make the custom ROMs many of us can't get enough of.
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
Sony has two new phones to announce here at CES in Las Vegas: one specifically for the purple people over at T-Mobile, and one meant to appease users who want a premium phone without the bulk. The Xperia Z1s is T-Mobile's branded variant of the slightly older Xperia Z1. Aside from the extra letter and doubled storage, it's identical to Sony's international flagship. The Xperia Z1 Compact is a smaller 4.3" phone that keeps most of the premium features.
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.