Sony's Android Auto head units are prettypopular around these parts. And that's for good reason, they present an excellent value for those interested in adding the hardware Android Auto experience to their car. Fortunately for Sony fans everywhere, the company has just announced a new product for its Android Auto lineup, the XAV-AX200.
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.
The Xperia C5 Ultra launched last year with Android Lollipop, as in 5.0. An over-the-air update to Android 5.1 arrived this past January. Eight months later, Sony is pushing the device up to Marshmallow.
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.
Along with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, Sony has announced the mid-range waterproof Xperia M4 Aqua today at Mobile World Congress.
With a 5" 720p display, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octacore, and 2GB of RAM, the Xperia M4 Aqua doesn't seem too impressive to begin with. However, when you start factoring in all the other specs, you'll understand why Sony says that there are "no compromises" in this mid-ranger.
First up, a 13MP camera (remember when that was a feature of high-end smartphones?) with Sony's Exmor RS sensor and a large F2.0 aperture with 3200 ISO sensitivity dons the back of the Xperia M4 Aqua and adapts to various environments.
We're well past the point where any Android enthusiast would be expecting (or perhaps more accurately hoping) that his or her phone will be getting an update full of Marshmallowy goodness, perhaps delivered by some confectionary fairy. Alas, for owners of the Xperia C4 and Xperia C5 Ultra, it's a bag full of Lollipops instead. Both phones are now being updated by Sony to Android 5.1, a version of the OS which we'll remind you is now almost a year old.
Both phones began receiving their respective software late last night, at least according to the updated pages on Sony's support site.
For those who like to tinker with their Android phones on a regular basis, the Substratum Theme Engine is a great way to style your rooted device with seemingly endless possibilities. It's based on code hidden within Android that's intended for use by OEMs to change themes in their skins, but this app now allows anyone to do this. Additional apps can be installed to work in conjunction with Substratum to change certain aspects of a device's theme, and that's exactly what Awesome Navbars does. It changes (you've guessed it) the Android navbar.
Back at MWC, while everyone was waiting for Sony to announce its follow-up flagship, the Xperia Z4, the company decided to keep it under wraps and instead unveiled the mid-range Xperia M4 Aqua and the Xperia Z4 Tablet. Today, the phone has finally been made official in Sony's home turf of Japan during a press conference that made all of the Z4's details public but left out any information regarding its global release or price.
The Xperia Z4 follows the same design as its predecessors, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. The squarish shape, metal frame, and glass back are part of the brand's identity, but at the same time they're iterative and have become boring.
Sony hasn't always been the best at updating its phones, but the company does have a commitment to AOSP unlike most others. It contributes a lot of code to Android, and developers are encouraged to tinker with unlocked devices. In fact, Sony has just announced support for AOSP on the Xperia E3 and Xperia T3, meaning all Qualcomm-based phones from 2014 can run pure Android with very little hassle.