Android Central

More interesting news for open-source geeks this morning, as it's emerged Android Open-Source Project head Jean-Baptiste Queru has kicked off an “experiment” to bring AOSP support to Sony’s Xperia S. Previously, the only official AOSP target devices have been Nexus phones and certain “Google Experience” products like the Motorola Xoom. So the fact that work is underway to bring this kind of support to the Xperia S, which ships with a skinned UI and a bunch of proprietary Sony tech, is a fairly big deal, even if it is just an experiment for the time being.

In selecting the Xperia S, JBQ notes that it’s a powerful GSM device with an unlockable bootloader, and said that Sony had been “very friendly” towards AOSP. On that last point, Sony has long contributed code back to AOSP, and it’s even helped out amateur devs like the FreeXperia team working on CyanogenMod support for Xperia phones, giving them AOSP-friendly proprietary code for certain devices. The manufacturer has also released alpha and beta builds of some major software updates ahead of time, and actively sought feedback from advanced users. So despite its comparatively small market share, Sony seems a good for for this kind of project.

In his message to the Android Building mailing list, Queru encourages community developers to get involved with the project, but to do so while staying on the right side of the rules when it comes to handling proprietary binaries. As far as we’re aware, AOSP-friendly propertiary code will have to be released by Sony in order for this experiment to progress towards fully-functional builds, just as was the case with FreeXperia and CM. The camera firmware, for instance, is packed with proprietary Sony tech, so an entirely new binary might have to be created for this project.

Aside from the technical challenges ahead -- and there are more than a few -- it’s certainly cool to see the AOSP brass playing around with open-source Android on one of the more dev-friendly Android devices. We're a long, long way off having easily-flashable Google-approved AOSP available for certain devices alongside the manufacturer’s own ROM -- in fact, we’ll go on record and say that probably won’t ever happen. However, if this little experiment is a success, it could open the door to other non-Nexus phones being initiated into AOSP, and that can only be a good thing. We can't help but wonder what Google's long play might be in this respect.

We’ve reached out to Sony Mobile for comment on this experimental project, and we’ll keep you posted with any information they have to share.

Source: Android Building Group, via: The Verge


Reader comments

Google launches 'experiment' to bring AOSP vanilla Android to Sony Xperia S


I'm thinking of taking back all that stuff I said about Sony in the past.
But they have done so much bad in so many ways for so long that I think I am going to have to hold off with any real forgiveness for a while.

Maybe a golf clap.

Yeah, it is hard to excuse Sony's past so quickly...

Sony has never been friendly to the Linux, FOSS, or "hacker" communities. Plus they have been very, very active in DRM and other consumer-unfriendly activity. They also often ignore standards and/or try to create their own proprietary ones to force the markets their way (Memory sticks, Beta, MD, BluRay, etc, etc, etc). They even laughed at consumers by lowering many of their warranties to 90 days, once of the worst of any large electronics manufacturers.

Please keep in mind I have several Sony cameras, a Sony laptop, a Sony CD player, and other Sony equipment in the past and present. They have made lots of very nice stuff. Just call it one of those love-hate relationships.

So, please excuse me if I am not convinced of the sincerity of this recent act, quite yet.

PS3 even thru Other OS removal is still most popular open standard console in existence, what ever you like it or not... so i would not use "never" here :p

It's odd that they love to help put AOSP on their phones, yet their phones run a somewhat ugly skin, and take forever to get updated.

Agree about long time to update, disagree about ugly skin. I have the Xperia S and I think the skin is pretty nice and in fact much closer to vanilla Android than HTC's super heavyweight Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz. Which skins would you consider not ugly then?

I don't think it's exactly ugly as a whole, its just some of the background colors and choices in some of the other minor UI areas look bad to me. I prefer the design of sense, something about the homescreen and notification bar look great to me. I'd consider Samsung's TouchWiz 3 and Nature UX, and LG's UI 2.0 to be the ugliest.

I've got to hand it to sony...they actually LISTEN to their customers!!

customers complained updates took too long on xperia x10. they update far faster now, not to mention beta roms for many devices.
customers complained their bootloaders were too secure, they started offering an official unlocker for sim-free gsm users
customers complained they hate the sony skins on android devices, they start offering vanilla aosp.

why can't every manufacturer be more like them?

I wouldn't mind an Xperia Nexus. If Apple is goin to keep tryin to sue Samsung over every breath, Google needs make sure they can keep their phones available in the US!

Back in the day Sony was my go to company for reliable hardware. If they would come out with a uber phone thats on every carrier I might seriously consider Sony. But as there phones are now, there are much better on the market.

People forget that the Verizon version of the Xperia PLAY ran with AOSP. Sony hardware combined with a Nexus platform could be pretty impressive.

Damn, I wish Sprint would pick up the Experia. I'm sick of HTC's sh*t and I'm just not too fond of the "look" of Samsung SGIII. The Eperia is the BEST looking phone on the maket today.

So the deal is to Opens Source as much as they can, while stuff such as the camera code would be supplied as a binary library because that's propriety. Is that right?

That's everything you could want. It's a model that other companies could follow.

i actualy can see big things for sony mobiles :)

the more i think about it since seeing this... the more i think about how sweet a sony nexus device would be :)