Sony, Please Make This Android Concept a Reality

Illustration for article titled Sony, Please Make This Android Concept a Reality

Sony’s Z3 is a good phone, handicapped with a skinned version of Android that looks dated, and comes with a dump-truck of superfluous crap. Thanks to this quietly-leaked Sony Android Concept, which strips away all the junk and leaves a experience that looks plain fantastic.

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The Sony ‘Concept for Android’ is a stripped-back beta version of its usual Android UI. It’s being tested on 500 lucky Z3 owners in Sweden, but as you’d expect from the internet, screenshots (and a full copy of the software) have leaked out.

Without a Sony phone to hand, I can’t test the software myself (believe me, I tried); but I can gawk at the screenshots. It looks pleasantly close to the version of Android 5.1 Lollipop on which it’s based — and that’s a very, very good thing.

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Handset manufacturers tend to gum up their Android skins with garish designs that ruin Android’s Material Design, and excess apps that you can’t uninstall. Sony’s Concept retains most of the design of Lollipop, and only adds a few apps: Album, Music, What’s New, and Xperia Lounge. That’s orders of magnitude better than the old Sony software:

There’s a loooooot of crap on [the Z3v], and by crap I mean pre-installed shitty apps I don’t need or want. Let’s take a look: Amazon Kindle, Amazon Music, Amazon App Store, AR Effect, Audible, Background Defocus, Caller Name ID, Verizon Cloud, Lifelog, Messages+, Movie Creator, My Verizon Mobile, NFL Mobile, Smart Connect, Softcard, Sony Select, Update Center, Verizon Voicemail, Verizon Navigator, VZ Protect, What’s New, Xperia Lounge and more.

It’s kinda sad that I’m excited for software that’s unchanged from the original designer, but it’s also true: I’m sick and tired of rooting Android devices, or even just messing with them for hours to get a stock feel.

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If Sony ships future Xperia phones running this version of its software, it will join a short and exclusive list of Android manufacturers who haven’t wrecked their hardware with bloat. Meaning there might be more than one Android phone I’d seriously consider using out of the box. And that is exciting.

If you’ve got a Sony Xperia Z3 and you want to test the ROM for yourself, XperiaFirmware has all the files and instructions you need.

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[XDA, Swedroid]


Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Screenshots from Swedroid

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DISCUSSION

an8bitdaydream
an8bitdaydream

It’s worth mentioning that while the Z3 is certainly full of crap no one wants, most of what’s on that list is also on my 2 year old Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4, and the list of offending apps on the Z3 above includes a host of Verizon apps.

So who’s really to blame here? Is it really Sony, or is it Verizon — the carrier that made agreements to install things like NFL, Amazon, Caller ID app, and other 3rd party junk, and that also creates redundant bloat apps like “Verizon Cloud” or “VZW Navigator” that replicate existing functions of the phone in shittier ways?

Point is this: Even if Sony intends to make this concept its next move, do not be surprised when Verizon bakes in all those apps on their corporate approved version of Android OS.