Sony Mobile (formerly Sony Ericsson) is one of the few Android manufacturers that will be updating their single-core handsets to the much sought after Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich firmware. Today, they have officially released the beta version of their ICS ROM to the Android developer community (and those familiar with root) to flash, tinker around with and give feedback. This is a preview of what’s to come when Sony officially updates their entire line of 2011 Xperia devices to Android 4.0.3 in the coming weeks.
Unlike the alpha version which didn’t have working calls or data, this new beta version has a few more things going for it with functions like FM radio and GSM fully functional. Other improvements from alpha to beta are as follows:
- Updated UI – We hope you will be happy to see that we have added a number of UI elements from ICS, as well as some new UI features already introduced in the Xperia™ S we announced in January.
- Lockscreen and Face Unlock – We have added a shortcut to the camera directly from the lockscreen. Also, when you’re listening to music you can control the music player without unlocking the phone by using the music control icons on the lockscreen. In the coming final ICS upgrade, we will also include the face unlock app from Google for all phones that has a front-facing camera. The Face Unlock feature uses the front-facing camera in combination with advanced object recognition algorithms to provide a new way to unlock the phone. However, since Face Unlock is a Google Mobile Services (GMS) app, it is not included in this ICS beta ROM.
- Connectivity turned on – Since we published the ICS alpha ROM, the GSM modem and FM radio have passed the certification and type approval, and they are therefore turned on in this ICS beta release.
- Updated email client – The UI has been updated, and simplified email management has been added.
- Quick dial – We have added a quick and easy way for you to make phone calls. See how it works in the ISC beta ROM demo video.
There are still a few things missing from the beta like Google apps, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which have to go through a certification process before they can be included in any official Sony ROM. Sony Mobile also mentioned that they will be opening up their source code for developers very soon. You can check out Sony’s beta ICS ROM in the video they uploaded to YouTube earlier today.
Download links as well as installation instructions have all been provided on their site, and you will have to have a rooted device with an unlocked bootloader to flash. Sony also strongly warns users that this beta ROM isn’t for everyone, and is simply Sony’s way of including the Android modding community in the development process before they go public with an official release. Gotta love Sony for that.