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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Android™ Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM available for 2011 Xperia™ smartphone models

Today we release an Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) beta ROM, as a follow up to the previously released ICS alpha ROM. In line with our goal to support the open developer community, we want to give you the chance to try out our coming upgrade to ICS (Android™ 4.0) in this beta version.
While the ICS alpha ROM was an early preview, the ICS beta ROM have passed some certifications such as Modem type approval, and important functions like FM radio and GSM are turned on. However, additional certification and approval is needed before an official upgrade can be released. As previously communicated, we will upgrade all 2011 Xperia™ smartphones running on Android to ICS. Read more to find out what’s included in the beta ROM, and what other limitations apply.
Since we released the ICS alpha ROM, we have received many comments and suggestions on our ICS implementation. We are very grateful for all of this feedback, and we can guarantee you that we’ve read every single comment with great interest. Your opinion is important to us, and we have evaluated all suggestions in relation to all the other parameters we are taking into consideration.
In the ICS beta we are now releasing, we have kept elements that we know are valued by users. On top of that we will bring Ice Cream Sandwich elements to provide a unique experience. A number of things are updated compared to the previous ICS alpha: 
  • 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.
Please note that the Google Mobile Services (GMS) apps (for example Gmail, Google Maps and Face Unlock), Bluetooth™ and Wi-Fi™ are not included in the beta release due to that they are still waiting for the certification and type approval to be finalised.
For your benefit, we will release open source archives for this ICS beta for Xperia™ phones shortly.
Important information
Even though a lot of the basic functionality of this ICS beta ROM is working, you should only download and install the beta version if you are an advanced developer. This is not the final software, and the stability of the software may not be ideal as it has not been finally tested and bugfixed.
Even if you’re an advanced developer, there are a few things to pay close attention to before you download and install the beta ROM:
  • You should be an advanced developer with extensive knowledge in how to install, and switch between different ROMs. If you are a consumer without these developer skills, then we strongly recommend you do not try this, as you may damage your phone.
  • You must be using Xperia™ arc S, Xperia™ neo V or Xperia™ ray, running the latest Xperia™ software release (which is 4.0.2.A.0.42). Please note that you can’t use the original Xperia™ arc or Xperia™ neo, as they have different partition layouts.
  • You must unlock your phone using our Unlock boot loader service, and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply. Please note that you may void the warranty of your phone, any warranty from your operator or both if you unlock the boot loader of your phone. Sony Ericsson can then no longer guarantee the full functionality of your phone, and will not be responsible for any unusable functions or loss of personal data associated to the beta ROM being flashed to the phone. Please pay special attention to the following legal statement before downloading (the full statement is available on the download link):
“You must acknowledge that the software is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”
  • Also, if you unlock the boot loader, you will not be able to download and install the final Ice Cream Sandwich software upgrade for Xperia™ phones. For additional information on limitations and warranty, please see our Unlock boot loader service page.
  • You should have read through and acknowledged the limitations of the software described below.
  • You must read and accept the end user license agreement on the download link, before you can download the beta ROM zip file.
Download and install
Follow the instructions below to download and install the alpha ROM. Please note that it only works with Xperia™ arc S, Xperia™ neo V and Xperia™ ray.
  1. Make sure your phone is running the latest software release, which is build number 4.0.2.A.0.42.  If you can’t upgrade to this build number, it is not possible to try the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ phones.
  2. Go to and unlock the boot loader of your phone. To do this, you must read through and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply. 
  3. Download the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ arc S, the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ neo V or the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ ray depending on your phone model.
  4. Extract the downloaded zip file to your Android Fastboot directory. For example: ..\android-sdk\fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta.
  5. Open a command prompt and go to your Fastboot directory: ..\android-sdk\fastboot\
  6. Flash the three beta ROM files one at a time using Fastboot. Use these three commands (replace the folder name if you are using Xperia™ neo V or Xperia™ ray):
    •  fastboot flash boot ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\boot.img
    •  fastboot flash userdata ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\userdata.img
    •  fastboot flash system ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\system.img
  7. Once done, please reboot your phone.
 Please let us know what you think about this beta ROM
Another ambition with this release is to work with all of the talented developers in the open community to get feedback on this beta ROM. If you download and install the beta ROM, please try out the software and go to our Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM survey for Xperia™ phones, to send us your feedback. It is very much appreciated – the summary of this survey will be used for future product and software strategies short term and long term. Your voice counts!
 If you want to discuss this beta ROM initiative, please check out the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ thread on the XDA forum . Here you can discuss with other developers, and ask questions to us. We will monitor this thread and reply to any questions as soon as we can.  If you have any additional ideas on what you would like us to do, feel free to drop us a comment below.

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