Ice Cream Sandwich Coming To Xperia But Sony Questions Stability

Sony has announced it will begin rolling out the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, to its 2011 range of Xperia Smartphones in April, but has warned it may not be as stable as version 2.3 Gingerbread.

In a blog post, the development team claimed Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich uses more power and memory, meaning that some users may want to stick with Gingerbread.

Rollout commencing

The first models to receive the upgrade will be the Xperia arc S, Xperia neo V and Xperia ray, with rollout expecting to take four to six weeks. The Xperia arc, Xperia Play, Xperia neo, Xperia mini, Xperia mini pro,Xperia pro, Experia Active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman will be upgraded at the end of May and the beginning of June.

Proud owners of a brand new Sony Xperia S will have to wait a bit longer, with Sony saying they would reveal details about a second quarter release in the next few weeks.

However, somewhat inconveniently, Sony has said that Ice Cream Sandwich is such a “significant revamp” that it will not be available as an over the air update and users will have to upgrade via their computer. It added that there will be no notifications or requests to update, meaning that users will have to keep their eyes peeled.

“We’ll get back to you once the rollout begins to keep you in the loop with progress and to tackle any questions you might have,” said a blog post. “Please don’t worry if your kit (customised software specific to your operator and handset) isn’t immediately accessible; they will be made available as soon as they’re ready to go.”

Stable Gingerbread

However, the development team outlined the differences between Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread, implying that users would have to choose between the revamped user interface and bells and whistles of the new OS, and the stability of the old version.

“Although ICS is new and compelling in many ways, we would like all of our users to make an informed decision when selecting what Android software to use,” said the development team. “We are actually proud to say that our Gingerbread software is very stable and has great performance, so it’s not a bad idea to stay on this release.”

According to the blog post, Ice Cream Sandwich is more system-intensive and requires more RAM and CPU power. It also adds that Google has moved a lot of the SQL handling from the native to the Java layer, which slows down apps. It says that the Ice Cream Sandwich web browser uses 20 to 30MB more RAM than its Gingerbread counterpart.

The team says that the software was designed with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first device to run it, in mind, meaning that Sony has had to adapt the software for Xperia smartphones. Sony announced its intention to upgrade its range last year, citing stability as an important consideration.

Ice Cream Sandwich features improved camera controls, multi-tasking, data counters, support for Near Field Communication (NFC), a redesigned interface, brand new contact system and a number of new security features.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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