August 15, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Just yesterday, the Sony Xperia Z1 began receiving a somewhat unexpected update to software version 14.4.A.0.133. Building on the previous 14.4.A.0.108 release, which itself already brought the device up to the latest Android 4.4.4 release. However, the update still rolled out, starting in several European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, and Poland.
Now, just one day after this latest .133 build started making its way out to consumer devices, Sony has uploaded the GPL-mandated kernel source code to Sony Developer World. News of this was originally announced via the Sony Developer World Twitter account, and this expedient release is nothing but good news for kernel and ROM developers on the device.
We still don’t have a solid changelog for the update, but both the update and the open source files are now available for those who wish to give it a go. You can get in on the open source files for 14.4.A.0.133 by heading over to the Developer World page. And if you’ve not yet installed the latest 14.4.A.0.133 FTF onto your device, you can head over to the Xperia Z1 FTF Mega Collection firmware thread to get in on the latest update.
[Many thanks to Portal Supporter Titokhan for the tip!]
July 31, 2014 By: Samantha
The stereo speakers on the Sony Xperia Z2 are probably a relatively large source of envy among owners of former Xperia flagship devices such as the Xperia Z1. And with the same design language, almost identical dimensions, and a not very significant bump in processing power, the having stereo playback is the one feature that the Z1 just had to miss out on. Luckily however, Z1 owners may be able to give this feature a go thanks to XDA Senior Member dontbelive.
A mod developed by dontbelive enables Z1 owners to emulate the function of stereo speakers by activating the device’s earpiece as a secondary speaker. This means rather than having sound played through the singular, mono speaker (as intended), you have stereo speaker playback by utilising both the default speaker and the device’s earpiece.
As of now, the mod has been updated once to version 2, and you’ll have to install another variant provided if you run CyanogenMod on your Z1. Dontbelive has also provided a download of custom viper4android settings he uses for optimum sound quality with the mod, since the earpiece isn’t quite the same as an actual speaker.
If you can’t wait to give this a go, head over to the Z1 Stereo Speaker Mod thread to get started.
June 12, 2014 By: Samantha
It seems like the latest feature to find its way into almost all modern flagship smartphones is 4K video recording. This began with the Acer Liquid S2, and has now made its way to recent flagships from Samsung, LG, and Sony—this being the Galaxy S5, G3, and Xperia Z2, respectively. As with any other new feature found on the latest devices, owners of previous flagships may find themselves longing for the added features. Luckily, Xperia Z1 and Z1 Compact can now enjoy some of this on their own devices.
Thanks to the collective efforts of XDA Senior Members shem2409 and Riyal, Forum Member lagalaga, and Recognized Contributor olokos, a port of the Xperia Z2′s 4K video recording has been developed for the Z1 and Z1 Compact. In addition to 4K recording capabilities, the port also allows you to record video with 120 frames per second with the Timeshift camera app.
In order to install this port, you’ll need your Xperia Z1 or Z1 Compact to be rooted, deodexed, and have the SuperUser mod installed. Once you’ve checked off this list, all you need to do is flash the provided ZIP package through a custom recovery. As of right now, SteadyShot mode in 4K resolution does not work and hence has been disabled temporarily. Other than that, however, the mod seems to be fully functional with all known bugs ironed out. The next device planned to receive a 4K and 120 FPS port is the Xperia Z Ultra, since it shares the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, so owners of this phablet potentially have something to look forward to in the future.
If you’re interested in checking out the mod yourself, head over to the original thread for more information. If you’ve already installed the mod, be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments as well as the mod discussion thread here.
As we’ve mentioned quite a few times in the past, multiboot is quite the interesting feature. Not only is it cool due to novelty, but it is also useful in case you need or want two separate instances of Android on your device.
In the past, we’ve seen XDA Recognized Developer munjeni bestow the gift of multiboot to devices like the Xperia P, as well as bringing it to the Xperia U, Sola and Go. Now, munjeni is back at work. And this time, his goal is bringing multiboot to the Sony Xperia Z1.
Currently, the multiboot boot menu works, but this is quite far from a plug-and-play affair. Rather, it’s only meant for experienced flashers and tinkerers, as you not only have to create the appropriate partitions, but you also need to update your recovery’s ramdisk, ROM’s ramdisk, and ROM’s updater_script. And once that’s all done manually, you then have to create the appropriate menu entries in the multiboot menu.
As you can tell by reading the above, the procedure is neither quick nor painless. Luckily every step is described in complete detail, but as we mentioned earlier, this is currently for experienced users only. If you feel like you’re up to the task, grab a cup of coffee and head over to the original thread. Multiboot awaits you.
You may recall that earlier this month, we talked about speeding up the original Nexus 7′s internal memory by using F2FS. F2FS was created at Samsung early last year for use on Linux-based operating systems. As its name implies, Flash-Friendly File System is a file system designed specifically to cater to the specific characteristics of NAND-based storage devices.
This log-structured file system is widely thought to be faster than traditional file systems such as EXT4 on flash memory, but is it really faster? And if so, by how much? XDA Recognized Contributor Androguide.fr set out to measure the performance differences on his Sony Xperia Z1 using popular synthetic benchmarks, and the results may very well surprise you.
As one might expect, F2FS proved to be faster on the Z1 than EXT4 in the vast majority of cases. This was demonstrated in various different types of synthetic benchmarks ranging from database operations to the higher-order storage benchmarks found in AnTuTu and Quadrant. And when looking specifically at AndroBench (screenshot shown to your right), database operations were consistently around an order of magnitude faster on F2FS than on EXT4. Storage write speeds were improved to an even greater degree for sequential and random writes in this synthetic benchmark, with both being greater than two orders of magnitude faster on F2FS.
But before you go out and convert your device to F2Fs, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, it seems that at least on the Z1, F2FS is actually about 20% slower in sequential reads than EXT4. Next and far more importantly, these are simply results from one specific sample of one specific device from one specific manufacturer. In other words, your mileage will almost certainly vary, especially if you’re not trying this on an Xperia Z1, as the real world performance gains (or losses) will be subject to the NAND chips and flash memory controller in your device, as well as various other factors that are beyond the scope of this article. That said, we wouldn’t be terribly surprised if your results show similar trends.
If you’d like to read more about Androguide.fr’s experiences and the methodology used in his tests, head over to the benchmark thread. What are your thoughts about F2FS? Do his results parallel your observations? Have you had any issues from switching to F2FS? Let us know in the comments below!
March 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Yesterday morning, we talked about how Sony had finally begun updating its current generation flagships to Android 4.4.2. But while an official KitKat release is great news, not everyone was lucky enough to receive the update.
As stated by Sony, update availability depends both on region and carrier. And since these rollouts come in stages, not everyone even in those regions that have already received the update will be included in the initial wave. Luckily, the community has stepped up to bring the update to any Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact device owner looking to update before his or her time.
The FTF files for the Xperia Z1 Compact comes courtesy of XDA Senior Members Jozinek, Darkimmortal, and louis0815. And so far, the extracted firmwares are available for unbranded Czech, unbranded UK, and unbranded German devices.
The goods are also available for the Xperia Z1, with many more regional variants being extracted and mirrored. These are available for commercial/journalist (Bin4ry), unbranded India (DooMLoRD), unbranded France (auras76), unbranded Brazil (RHBH), customized Malaysia (chunlianghere), customized Singapore (chunlianghere), unbranded Canada (PherChe) devices.
As expected, the firmware for all three devices comes in at version 14.3.A.0.681. So pick your poison, and head to the links above to get started.
[Many thanks to Portal Supporter Titokhan for the Z1 Compact link!]
March 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Compared to Motorola, Samsung, and even HTC, it’s not inaccurate to state that Sony’s been a tad bit slow in officially updating its devices to Android 4.4 KitKat. Motorola first updated the Moto X back in November, Samsung followed suit not too long after in January, and even HTC got its feet wet in November and subsequently finished the job yesterday.
But before we start waving around our pitchforks, let’s remember that Sony’s quite developer friendly, and they’ve done much to help aftermarket developers bring KitKat to their devices. Heck, they’ve even released unofficial alpha firmware builds from time to time. Now, however, Sony has started rolling out official Android 4.4 KitKat to its flagship Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact.
These updates bring quite a few new features, including status bar and quick settings interface tweaks, PlayStation 4-style launch animation and live wallpaper, updated native apps, and Xperia Themes. According to Sony:
- Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
- We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
- If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and livewallpaper across the lock and home screens
- We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, MyXperia, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, TrackID TV, Sony Select, Smart Social Camera and…
- Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies, with Sony Entertainment Network cloud service integration* – a more converged and full Sony entertainment experience – Sony Entertainment Network & PlayMemories integration with a more intuitive UI, better download speeds, and more!
- Our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles, and more to follow soon…
Perhaps just as exciting as today’s update, Sony laid out a timetable for its next round of updates, as they’ve now stated that the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR, and Tablet Z will also receive the KitKat goods some time in Q2. And finally, Sony also stated that KitKat will also be making its way over to the Xperia T2, E1, and M2 at some point.
Good job Sony in updating your current flagships! Head over to the comments and threads below to get in on the discussion!
February 21, 2014 By: Samantha
One interesting function Sony touted for their phablet, the Xperia Z Ultra, is its ability to react to ordinary pens and pencils—yes, pens and pencils—as a styli. Putting aside the obvious concern of scratching and ruining your phone’s screen with a pen, it’s still definitely a unique differentiating factor when you’re comparing different phablets.
Well, it turns out that the Xperia Z1’s screen also has this same capability, except it was disabled by Sony for some reason or another. First implemented in an AOKP ROM for the device, XDA Senior Member RyokoN has now made the this function available to any owner of the Xperia Z1 running the official firmware.
In order to get this working, you must edit edit hw_config.sh, or create an init.d script with the lines of code given by RyokoN. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit too brief and incomplete, as RyokoN has provided all the necessary steps and information to get this rather simple mod up and running. And for users of Tasker, RyokoN has also created an app to get Pen mode working with Tasker.
This mod is only compatible with materials made of metal, wood, and lead, so plastic and anything else will not work. If you want to give this a try, head over to the original thread for more information.
Ever since December of 2013, a large number of Sony Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra owners began to experience what has been dubbed and feared as an Xperia “Brickademic.” This issue that has garnered confused, angry, and disappointed responses spanning over more than 35 pages in the discussion thread, and the cause seems to be spawning from kernel incompatibilities that result from flashing an Android 4.3 firmware on a device running certain builds of Android 4.2.2. Now that it has been festering for a couple of months already, XDA Forum Members vovanx500 and the_laser have finally come out with a solution to the bricking problem.
Vovanx500 makes it clear at the beginning of the tutorial that the fix is not for the faint of heart, with the process requiring disassembling your device, which voids your warranty, in order to access the testpoint. The tutorial lays down the necessary steps to recover your bricked device, from guiding you on what has to be done once you’ve removed the back cover of your device, to running the actual program and finally getting the device back on track. The fix would not be possible without the efforts of the_laser, who developed the program used in the process, as well as vovanx500’s Xperia Z Ultra which was used as a guinea pig to find the testpoint.
This definitely isn’t a fix that everyone may want to try due to its complexity. But if you’re willing and have the nerve, head over to the original thread for more information.
[Thanks to Senior Member zeppelinrox for the tip!]
January 30, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
As is pretty much always the case, quite a bit is happening in the Sony Xperia world. And today, this comes in the form of official updates for the Sony Xperia M and the flagship Xperia Z1—the former coming soon, and the latter already rolling out with a captured update package.
First off, we have the Sony Xperia M. The device, which was released in the middle of last year, was never destined to be a flagship device. In fact, with only a dual-core 1 GHz processor and a WVGA screen, it was more inline with the flagships of 2011 and 2012 than 2013. Regardless, the Xperia M is still a good device, and it has amassed a loyal following in our forums. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that many were upset when the device wasn’t included in the initial list of Xperia smartphones set to receive official Android 4.3—much less KitKat. Thankfully though, it appears as if the Xperia M will be receiving official Android 4.3 after all, as Vodafone Australia has queued the Android 4.3 update for testing. While this doesn’t say anything about unbranded devices or those available on other carriers (or even other Vodafone regions), it bodes well for Sony’s progress behind the scenes.
On the Sony Xperia Z1 front, we have an official maintenance update to software version 14.2.A.1.136. The update has only rolled out to certain BALs at this time, but XDA Recognized Developer Androxyde has managed to create an FTF from his customized BAL and mirror it in this thread for everyone’s enjoyment. Furthermore, several other users have provided the updates for different variants in the thread as well, if you’d rather have a different region’s firmware. The update itself is still Android 4.3, but it brings numerous fixes, as well as a new white balance setting.
If you’re a Xperia Z1 user and you would like to get your hands on the update in FTF form, head over to the firmware thread to get started. On the other hand, if you’re an Xperia M user and you’d like to discuss the incoming 4.3 update, head over to this discussion thread and speak your mind.
[Source: Vodafone.au | Thanks to Samantha for the tip!]
January 20, 2014 By: Samantha
Now that Google’s Holo theme has been around for quite a while now, it’s probably safe to say that a very large portion of apps, if not the majority, have adopted the Holo look. But as OEMs are, they like to keep things their way, and this is no different when it comes to Sony. But unlike some OEMs and their preferred interfaces, the aesthetic route Sony has taken doesn’t stray too much from Holo. This may have resulted many folks taking a liking for Sony’s UI, leading to XDA Recognized Themer BDFreak creating an interesting framework for the Sony Xperia Z1, Z, ZL, SP, T, TX and V.
As Xperia owners would know, the Sony UI can only be seen on apps made by Sony, such as the messaging app, Walkman, and the calendar. What this framework does however, is force the Sony UI to replace the UI of any non-Sony app, making the Sony look consistent throughout your phone. No matter which app you have installed, and what sort of theme they have, be it Holo or something made in MS Paint, the framework replaces every UI element with those of Sony.
If you’re unsure or wary of how this might turn out, BDFreak has provided some side-by-side comparisons of apps’ interfaces before and after installation of the framework to help you decide before diving in. Installation is very simple, merely consisting of downloading the appropriate zip file and flashing it through a custom recovery. There are also convenient zip files which revert everything back to they way they were before if you don’t like what you see.
If you would like to check this framework out, head over to the original threads for the supported devices.
January 18, 2014 By: Samantha
One of the more attractive aspects of the new Android 4.3 update on a number of Sony Xperia devices is what Sony calls the “Smart Social Camera.” Originally exclusive to only the Xperia Z1, the camera software allows users to install additional Xperia-only camera apps for additional functions and features to enhance your photo and video experience. Such apps may include Social Live, which live streams whatever your camera lens sees straight to Facebook; or Info Eye, which brings up information on whatever your camera is pointed towards.
The thing is, though, a few Xperia devices seem to be missing a couple of camera apps after being updated to the latest Android 4.3 firmware. It turns out, none of the following apps were to be found after the firmware update:
So to remedy this predicament, XDA Recognized Contributor and Themer Rizal Lovins decided to port the Smart Social Camera software in its entirety from the Xperia Z1s to the Xperia T, TX, V, SP, Z, ZL, ZR, Z1 and the Z Ultra. This means any camera app that was not found in the original camera software of these devices will now be available for everyone who has installed the port. The Background Defocus app, however, is exclusive to only the Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra for now.
The port will only work with the aforementioned devices running the official Android 4.3 firmware, and only if they have been de-odexed. Other than that, there shouldn’t be any problems with installation, with the process simply consisting of wiping the device’s cache, flashing the provided zip file, and rebooting the device.
So if you would like to finally give some of the missing camera apps a go on your device, head over to the original thread for more information.
December 22, 2013 By: Samantha
A few days ago, we brought you news of a port of the Sony Xperia Z1-exclusive Motionshot app to all devices running Android 4.0 and up. It’s a pretty neat app that essentially generates a still image of a short video. But it seems like Motionshot isn’t the only app the Xperia Z1 has to share with the rest of the Android world, as Motiongraph will also be joining the list.
Ported by XDA Forum Member xperiaz2 who also ported Motionshot, Motiongraph works with any Android 4.0 or newer device, irrespective of OEM or ROM. And much like Motionshot, Motiongraph is another novelty imaging app by Sony.
Motiongraph allows users to create an image, where selected parts are animated, and then the image is saved as a GIF. The procedure is simple. First, capture a 2 second video within the app. Once done, the app allows you to select areas of the video that you want to be animated with swipes and taps. A host of other settings are also available to enhance and control your image, such as camera focus, image stabilization, and adjustment of playback speed and smoothness.
If you would like to give Motiongraph a shot, visit the original thread for more details and download.