January 26, 2013 By: jerdog
Here at XDA, we take the responsibility of carriers and OEMs to provide timely updates to their devices (and to honor their GPL requirements) seriously. There are those who do a good job (Samsung is one of them), those who don’t always do a good job (HTC, Motorola, LG), and those who do a terrible job (Huawei, ZTE, Rockchip to name a few). But there is one who right now is doing a terrific job, and that is Sony Mobile.
Back at the end of 2012, we selected Sony Mobile as our OEM of the Year for many reasons. One of those had to do with their public support of the developer community. Another was the release of beta OS builds for impending updates, shared on XDA by Sony staff in order to seed the ROM development pipeline. In addition, they were very active in supporting AOSP for the Sony Xperia S in the Google AOSP device tree, released the AOSP binaries, and eventually branched out to open their own Github for future AOSP development.
On Friday, Sony continued their string of community contributions by releasing an ALPHA build of Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.2) for the Sony Xperia T. This build is most definitely an alpha, meaning that many of the core components do not work, so it is not meant to be flashed or even mucked around with by the end user. It is meant solely for custom ROM developers to take and use and help make it better in preparation for Sony’s upcoming official build of Jelly Bean for the Xperia T. In order to flash this you will need to use their EMMA tool and your device must have its bootloader unlocked, or else the device will boot to a black screen and you will need to return to stock via Sony’s Update Tool. More information can be found at their Developer World blog. Again, this is not for the end user.
Sony evidently wasn’t content just to be the only OEM to provide OFFICIAL alpha builds for their devices. They ALSO released the kernel source for the alpha build. No other company in our memory has ever done this. Sure, one could argue that it is their obligation to release the kernel source under GPL requirements because they distributed the alpha build. But let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about an ALPHA build—something that is essentially in the infant-stages of its evolution, and not a production build or a finished product.
Let’s also keep in mind that instead of letting it leak like other manufacturers do, and thus not need to adhere to the GPL because they can claim ignorance and that they themselves aren’t the one distributing, they are embracing the fact that the GPL is not harmful. They are stating their case that this is how OEMs should work with the community. They are saying that this sort of thing encourages trust and a sense of togetherness between the community and the OEM, which in turn trickles down to the consumer’s good will towards the OEM. It’s a veritable marketplace “circle of life.” (You’re welcome for having planted the Lion King firmly in your subconscious for the next few hours.)
Other OEMs, like Samsung, frequently release incomplete kernel source that will not build (GPL violation); or fail to release the kernel source for a production build that they later retract even though it was distributed and is live in the wild on consumer’s devices (GPL violation). Or in the case of HTC, just plain ignore the GPL and wait for petitions to be filed or lawyers to be engaged before releasing the kernel source for a software version that is now out of date (GPL violation).
Let this be a lesson to the OEMs out there: When you choose to embrace the very ecosystem that has driven your profits high, and endeavor to work with that ecosystem in a mutual give-and-take, you will see positive results and karma that far exceeds your expectations. Or you can choose to neglect the very base that at one time made you the top smartphone manufacturer in the world and ultimately see your profits and market share slide into the abyss where there is little to no hope of return. Your choice. Choose wisely.
December 30, 2012 By: jerdog
When you purchase a device, it’s always desirable to be able to use it as you wish. Sadly, this is often not the case. This is because most of the time, people purchase devices with a carrier subsidy. What this means is that essentially the carrier is letting you purchase the device at a reduced rate, say $300 off suggested retail, with the terms of a contract stating you will stay with them for (usually) two years. This guarantees that they will keep their ARPU (average revenue per user) over that time.
The trade off is that if you break the contract, they will charge you an ETF (early-termination fee), which adds up to the same amount they “discounted” the phone for, prorated of course. Usually rolled in with that trade off is an agreement between the manufacturer and the carrier that the bootloader is locked, giving the carrier the full control of the device instead of you. Of course, with the talented developers here at XDA-Developers, bootloaders are often hacked, returning the control of the device to the user.
What often doesn’t happen though is manufacturers deciding to give you control of the device on their own, which is exactly what Sony has done with their beta flash tool they call “Emma.” Sure Samsung “leaked” ODIN, but that’s entirely different. This is Sony creating a tool and freely making it available, and then going the extra step to show you how to use it. The tool is for the Xperia S, Xperia Arc, Xperia Arc S, and Xperia T, with more devices to be added in the future. Emma is essentially a “return to stock” tool that will work regardless of what software you currently have installed on your Xperia device, though it does require the bootloader be unlocked which Sony is again more than happy to show you how to do. The other requirements for the tool are that you have Windows installed and a current version of JAVA.
You can use the tool to choose between different stock versions of firmware, which the tool will automatically download for you from Sony’s servers. There are some quirky things with the tool however, with the connection to the Sony servers being temperamental and general JAVA issues. That said, the tool is still in beta, so head on over to the discussion thread to address any issues you might be having and to download the tool.
December 18, 2012 By: Jimmy McGee
Recently, XDA named Sony as OEM of the year. From being the first non-Nexus device to be supported in Android Open Source Project to taking over the community build themselves, Sony has given back to the development community.
XDA Recognized Developer, News Writer, and Senior Moderator jerdog got his hands on the Sony Xperia S. He talks about the device and how it compares to other devices. He shows you what comes in the box of an Sony Xperia S package. Finally he shows you how to root the device with tools built by XDA Recognized Developer Bin4ry. Check this video out.
When a successful experiment ends, there are usually “next steps.” In the case of the Sony Xperia S AOSP experiment, Google’s Jean-Baptiste Quéru (JBQ) called it a success. He was extremely happy with what Sony brought to the table and the work that was done.
Going forward from Jelly Bean onward, Sony will be taking over the project, and how they are going to be doing so is a great win for the community. The reasoning for moving the Xperia S out of AOSP makes a lot of sense. This is because Google can’t have non-Nexus devices in the AOSP for the long term. However, for an experiment like this, it was more plausible.
At the Big Android BBQ 2012, we had a session where we talked about XDA’s vision for interaction and collaboration with OEMs. The key points were:
Sony is doing exactly this. They have put together a Sony Git on GitHub to allow external partners and developers to contribute. The Git will be maintained by Sony engineers Johan Redestig and Björn Andersson, both of whom have a long history of making contributions to the AOSP mainline. Here is the Technical Status of the project:
Technical status of the project
As for the current status and progress of the AOSP on Xperia™ S project, we actually have a lot of things working now. With the code we’re now making available on GitHub, AOSP now boots up, and we have the SD-card, Wi-Fi® and sensors working. And as you can see in the video above, internally we also have audio and the modem running. However, these functions require proprietary binaries that we cannot publish at the time being.
Going forward, the next steps are to replace some of the previously published binaries with source code, and to get Android 4.2 working on Xperia™ S. This can be used as a development platform, and as a base for the work of opening up source code for more modules. For the latest technical status, check out the project on GitHub.
We hope to see many of you developers from the open Android community participate in the project, so if you are interested in making contributions, head over to the project on GitHub. Make yourself familiar with the code and feel free to have a look at the issue list to see where you might be able to help out.
You can visit Sony’s Developer Blog for more information.
Featured image courtesy of AndroidNext.de
November 16, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Sony has done some interesting work with their Xperia devices. One of the more interesting software features they’ve begun implementing comes in the form of Small Apps. Small Apps are essentially floating window applications that open like windows on your computer. It’s similar to Galaxy Note 2 multi window feature. Now, some third party developers have gotten into Small Apps have released their own.
XDA Senior Member hhlong89 posted an application called WebView. It’s an Xperia Small App and also a web browser. It opens up a web browser in a Small Apps window, and lets users browse the web. It’s not too much different from regular Android web browsers, except the floating window feature. A full list of features include:
Share URL from Intent
Can Use Default Browser
（※↑Not Working When You Aleady Set another app）
Long press maxmize button go to Setting Activity
Long press home button to browser reload
Long press open with browser button(left bottpm) to show input form
In addition, some copy/paste functions don’t work and the pulldownlist doesn’t work. The app has been confirmed working on pretty much every Xperia device that can run Small Apps. Now that third party developers are digging into Small Apps, users may see more on the horizon.
For additional details, check out the original thread.
October 1, 2012 By: egzthunder1
As we love having different things from different devices on our “non-compatible” phones, we cannot help but enjoy features such as the Sense lock screen, TouchWiz, Blur (riiight), Timescape, and more. One feature that has not gotten a whole lot of press is the Walkman player present in the Xperia S, T, and V devices. This player is featured pack with visualizations, equalizers, smooth animations, transitions, and everything that one expects of a music player this day and age. Luckily, for those who would want to get one of the aforementioned devices but cannot really bring themselves to spending more money on newer devices, XDA Forum Member Rizal Lovins has you covered.
The dev has successfully extracted and ported the Sony Walkman Style and Gallery applications from the Xperia series. The app in its current state has a few quirks including how the widget does not work as well as the SenseMe feature. However, the newer ports from the Xperia T music player seem to have solved quite a few issues with background and album art not displaying properly. One last thing is that the modded app can be installed on most devices sporting ICS, so as long as they are rooted.
Please drop by the thread and test these apps out, and leave some feedback for the dev to work out the kinks so that this can become a fully working port.
Hi Guys …
I share the Walkman Player from Xperia S running ICS & I replace some icon
This Walkman application extracted from My Xperia S and work fine on other device running ICS/JB/CM9/CM10/MIUI ICS/AOSP/AOKP
You can find more information in the original thread.
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September 30, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
USB On-The-Go is probably one of the greatest tools for Android that not a lot of people know about. With it you can connect virtually anything that requires USB into your Android device, including external hard drives, flash drives, keyboards, mice, and pretty much whatever else you can think of—even your DSLR. As OTG technology gets more popular, the features that come with it will evolve as well. For many Xperia devices, including the Xperia S, P, U, Sola, and Acro S, you can now simultaneously use OTG and charge your device.
The method was written out by XDA Senior Member sonic_boom and it does require some hardware modification. Initially, the hardware mod gave users a choice to switch a cable from OTG mode to Charge mode and thus not have to use multiple cables. However, after some more tinkering, sonic_boom managed to get simultaneous OTG and charging using a 4-way USB hub. What’s the only other way to get this? By purchasing a special dock.
As expected with hardware modifications, your mileage may vary. This involves tinkering with pieces of hardware and may damage your device or your accessories. Aside from the standard boilerplate warning, the mod is actually pretty simple. As stated by sonic_boom, this should work on any OTG-enabled Xperia device.
To learn more, visit the original thread.
September 21, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
When it comes to multi-device releases, it doesn’t get much more straightforward than a widespread Sony Xperia release. Given how close the hardware and software is between devices, it isn’t overly difficult to get a single piece of software working on a number of devices. As such, unofficial AOKP Jelly Bean was ported to 14 Sony Xperia devices practically all at once.
XDA Recognized Contributor championswimmer, on behalf of the KangXperiaProject, brings us the ROMs. However, many thanks go to the FreeXperia Team, whose work was critical to the achievement. In championswimmer’s words:
It is very important to mention here that nothing, yes i repeat NOTHING was possible without the awesome work done by FreeXperia team for the community. For all 2011 devices we are using their device trees almost untouched. So all the hardware work (making camera, sensors, gralloc, hardware acceleration etc work flawlessly) is purely the credit of FreeXperiaTeam (FXP, bin4ry, defer and Kali- ) If there is anyone whom you really need to thank for Xperia devices being able to run CM9/AOSP/AOKP/MIUI or whatever non-stock ROMs it’s the great people like : ZdZihu, FXP, Bin4ry, defer, Kali-, KeiranFTW, DoomLord, Androxyde, Achotjan, Azuzu and many many more. The only thing that KXP team has done is made the devices and vendor trees fit into the groove of AOKP source tree and manage a buildable environment. Our contribution in KXP ROMs is much much less as compared to the contribution of Team Kang and Team FreeXperia. (Ofcourse on older devices we had to work a lot becuase FXP does not support them anymore)
The functionality varies depending on device. However, there aren’t more than two or three things broken per device, and none of it is bad enough to be considered unstable. In addition to releasing the ROMs for all these devices, KXP has also written up a nice tutorial showing users how to download and compile their own source code. So if users want to grab the latest and greatest or just tinker around, it is available. Do be advised, the tutorial for compiling is for 64-bit Ubuntu, and will require at least 10GB of disk space.
If you’d like to know more and see the full list of supported devices, check out the original thread.
Dual booting on Android is a lot of fun. Not only does this give users a chance to run multiple ROMs, but users can also separately customize each instance of the OS to suit their needs. Sony Xperia S owners may be getting dual boot functionality very soon.
XDA Senior Member letama has released a very rough Boot Manager for the Xperia S. We say rough because it’s version 0.2, and it has been deemed okay if you don’t mind the experimental warning label. There’s a lot of work going on with this project, so it shouldn’t take an excessive amount of time to compete.
For more info, head over to the original thread.
[Thanks to XDA Senior Member neectron for the tip!]
It’s been a couple of weeks since we shared news that the Sony Xperia S was being added to the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) by Technical Lead Jean-Baptiste Queru. This aims to deliver a Nexus-like, pure vanilla Android experience to the device. Now, Sony has released the proprietary binaries required to make it happen!
This is the first time since the introduction of the Nexus One that a non-Nexus phone receives the official AOSP treatment. We hope this is a sign of things to come, as this will make ROM development easier, without worries of filing petition after petition for the required proprietary binaries and other essentials. What’s more, the CyanogenMod team has also committed to submit software patches to AOSP development for the Xperia S in order to help development.
If you are developing ROMs or kernels for the Xperia S, you can grab these binaries from the SonyMobile website. To learn all the details on the development, check out the official blog post at SonyMobile.
August 28, 2012 By: Jimmy McGee
Recently, XDA News Writer Ian Stacy reported that Technical Lead of the Android Open Source Project at Google, Jean-Baptiste Queru announced that the first experimental device was added to the Android Open Source Project tree. This phone was the Sony Xperia S. While this is good news for Sony and Android in general, what does this really mean?
XDA Developer TV Producer azrienoch returns to give his opinion on this announcement. Is it good for developers? Is it good for Android? Who does this development in the Android Open Source Project really benefit? To find out azrienoch’s answers to these questions, check out this video.
The Sony Xperia line up has been rather busy in recent weeks. With the Xperia S lock screen being ported to five other Xperia devices and ICS AOKP getting ported to 16 Xperia devices, users have had a lot to do with their Xperia devices. The trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, as over half a dozen Xperia devices now have CM10 ports. Specifically, the Sony Xperia Ray, Sony Xperia Neo/NeoV, Sony Xperia Arc/Arc S/Pro, and the Xperia S.
Normally, there would be a laundry list of developers responsible for a laundry list of CM10 releases like this. That is not the case this time. XDA Recognized Developer FXP is actually responsible for all of them. In fact, FXP has released all the CM10 ROMs in the same threads as the CM7 and CM9 releases, making CyanogenMod really easy to find for these devices.
As expected, they are alpha builds. This means that there are bound to be bugs in each ROM—some of which may not be that bad, but a few could be deal breakers for now. While there isn’t a list in the thread that lists the bugs, users can use FXP’s bug tracker for each ROM to find out exactly what’s wrong. Users have reported that at least network, WiFi, camera, and a few other basic features indeed work. While it may not be great for daily use, it’s definitely stable enough to enjoy.
For download links and change logs, check out the corresponding links below.
July 15, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
As a device gets older, the development surrounding it evolves. Root methods come, root methods go, and new root methods are born. This also goes for ROMs, kernels, and pretty much any other type of development you can think of. It happens for various reasons, but typically it’s due to firmware updates that render old methods obsolete. In other cases, it’s to achieve root when stuck on a locked bootloader. The Sony Xperia S falls into that category.
With this newer root method, users have not one, but two different methods—the long way by XDA Forum Member sharaz22 or the short way by XDA Forum Member hk2006. Both root methods ultimately achieve the same goal, but there are reports of both methods having their issues.
In the longer method, users are directed to use a number of batch files and perform some operations on Flashtool. Once done, all that’s needed is to install Superuser from the Google Play Store. It will root devices with locked bootloaders, but this process will not install a custom recovery. The short version wraps the entire long version up into a single batch file and provides more of a one click solution. Users have reported needing to run the script a few times in order to get it to stick, and users who try it with ICS have reported having to do a factory reset afterward to fix some small lag issues. Neither version flashes a custom recovery, and users are encouraged to wait for a dedicated version.