It looks like most Android smartphone manufacturers have started taking the un-official route to release an early alpha/beta Ice Cream Sandwich update for their handsets.
Until now, the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, HTC Sensation, and a few Xperia branded handsets from Sony have tasted Ice Cream Sandwich thanks to either a firmware leak or an official alpha/beta ROM from the company itself.
Sony had released an official Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for some of their Xperia handsets, including the Xperia Arc S, Neo V and the Xperia Ray. The ROM was in Alpha stage, and most of the basic features like GSM calls, data etc. did not work on the ROM.
Today, Sony has released a beta Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the same Xperia handsets with a few major changes. The company has finally incorporated some of the UI tweaks from Ice Cream Sandwich, including the Settings menu and a camera shortcut on the lock screen. The company has also added Quick Dial feature to the Dialer app, and one of the most gimmicky feature on Ice Cream Sandwich – Face Unlock – to the ROM.
Sony has also uploaded a video of the ICS ROM in action on the Xperia Arc S -:
From the video above, it is quite evident that the beta Ice Cream Sandwich ROM runs smoothly on the handset.
The most important change in the beta ROM is that Sony has enabled the GSM modem and FM radio connectivity features. This means that users can now successfully make calls, send SMSs, listen to FM radio and connect to mobile data network on this beta ROM. Keep in mind that the two other important connectivity features – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – still don’t work, which might be a deal breaker for some people.
The ROM also lacks the core Google Apps like Gmail and Market, since they are still waiting certification. Anyways, it’s just a matter of time before some developers from XDA create a fully functional custom ROM based on this beta ICS release from Sony.
Xperia users interested in flashing this beta Ice Cream Sandwich ROM on their handset, should keep in mind that they need to unlock the bootloader on their handset to flash this ROM, which in turns voids the warranty of your handset. So decide wisely! The step by step instruction to install this beta Ice Cream Sandwich ROM on the Xperia Arc S, Neo V and Ray can be found here.