QuickClick starts any device action with volume buttons

Dedicated tactile features for specific functions – like the dedicated camera button on the Sony Xperia S, or the gesture shortcuts on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones – are usually the realm of high-end Android products, making users of the more basic units a bit jealous because, hey, you get what you pay for. But then there are apps like QuickClick that let you get close to those dedicated high-end functionalities, with just a couple of clicks on the volume button.

That is the rationale for this new app by Blor, purveyors of all things “quick” – check out their apps at the Google Play Store to see what we mean. With QuickClick, you can program click sequences and patterns on your volume buttons to use those as triggers for certain device actions. The app will allow you to start your camera on a dedicated volume button pattern, or even start your favorite flashlight app.

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Upon starting QuickClick, you will be surprised at the array of actions that you are allowed to start just by programming volume button taps or clicks. And when you chose an action, you will be given a few more settings to fine tune your trigger, making the whole process pretty personal. This is a very practical win for users, as all of these actions are available without rooting your Android device. The app also comes with Tasker integration, which gives power users access to device settings just with a few clicks on the volume rocker. Pretty neat, huh? (Note: Tasker integration may require root access.)

That being said, there are some drawbacks to the app – especially for music lovers who use their phones as their primary music player and will use their volume buttons all the time. In this case, using the volume rocker as app triggers will totally change the way a user who listens to music all the time uses their phone. One will have to program super unique patterns for app triggers so that the app does not interfere with your music listening experience – thereby defeating the “quick” purpose of the app. That being said, this app will be quite useful for entry level Android devices which can leverage on the app and action triggers from the volume rocker.

Download: QuickClick from the Google Play Store

Jelly Bean update reportedly rolling out in late March for Sony’s Xperia S

Xperia-S-Jelly-Bean

After several mediocre years in the Android décor, Sony finally has a shot at becoming one of the greats, courtesy of the splendid Xperia Z and ZL. And yet not all the company’s attention is focused on the high-end duo, with a couple of mid-rangers expected to land soon.

Meanwhile, last year’s Xperia line-up continues to be spoiled. It was only a week ago we heard the first reports of Jelly Bean rolling out to the humble J, with the more impressive TL getting the same butter treatment a couple of days back.

And while we feared Sony would have too much on its plate to also worry about the one year-old Xperia S, that doesn’t seem to be the case. At all. In fact, the early 2012 flagship might actually get its own Android 4.1 Jelly Bean bump earlier than planned – in late March.

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That’s based on a tweet sent out by Sony Mobile Germany, so you could say it’s official information. Then again, we know how tricky “social media” can be nowadays, meaning the ETA is definitely not set in stone yet.

Worst-case scenario, Sony’s German branch is wrong and we go back to the old schedule, according to which the Xperia S was due for an update in April. Which would still not be awful, would it?

Now how about some Android 4.2 upgrades, Sony? Also, some 4.1 love for the TX would be welcomed. And the P and U. Anyone want to add something to the wishlist?

The post Jelly Bean update reportedly rolling out in late March for Sony’s Xperia S appeared first on Android Authority.

Is Sony making a comeback?

Sony-Xperia-Z

If you’re reading this, it’s more likely for you to be on a Sony laptop computer than a Sony mobile device. Sony may have the market cornered on premium cameras and game consoles, but it has never really been all-in with mobile. Is all that changing? Is Sony getting ready to take everyone else on? We’ll look at where Sony has been, and get a better understanding of where it’s going. If things keep going as they appear to be lately, we’ll be considering Sony for our next (and maybe all future) mobile products.

Ericsson

In the days of ringtones and that silly little snake game being the only option on your phone, Ericsson was as big a player in the mobile industry as anyone. It was a two-horse race with Nokia, and Nokia was producing really inexpensive phones. In an effort to keep up, Ericsson sourced its parts from the same suppliers as Nokia, most notably Phillips. Phillips had a chip manufacturing facility in New Mexico that was dedicated to the tandem of Nokia and Ericsson, so things seemed to be on track. A fire around the turn of the century would threaten the sterility of the factory, thus shutting down production. Phillips assured its two major customers that production would only cease for a week, an aggressive timeline for such an incident.

Nokia thought better of that promise and began sourcing chips from otherss. Ericsson did not, and that week turned into months. Faced with supply shortages and upcoming models being held up, Ericsson was left to consider outsourcing or worse, shutting it all down. Ericsson was, and is, a telecommunications business with a stake in networks. It considered mobile to be a huge part of its success with network, so closing down the mobile operations was just not in the cards.

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A new hope

As things looked grim for Ericsson’s mobile division, a partnership was considered. Sony was a small player in the mobile market around the year 2000, with 1% of the market share. Both had something to bring to the table: Ericsson had an established market share and brand notoriety, while Sony had a supply chain and forward-thinking designers. The partnership would be finalized in August of 2001, and a long, strange journey would start.

At the begining of the partnership, Nokia was really taking off, releasing the iconic 8310 device. Nokia followed that up with the (for the time) revolutionary 5510. Those two phones were cheap, and available anywhere, giving Sony Ericsson fits for getting back into the market. While many believed Sony Ericsson phones were superior, they simply didn’t have the same “it” factor Nokia devices had.

Picture this

Sony was always a leader in digital photography, and as cameras were getting smaller, putting a decent camera in the phone was getting more and more realistic. In 2005, Sony Ericsson released the K750i, which has a 2-megapixel camera on board. Way ahead of its time, the phone simply didn’t catch on as well as the company had hoped. The W800i was the first “Walkman” phone, capable of playing music from a Sony Memory Stick, but also failed to resonate with customers.

Sony had a lot of very forward-thinking products that failed to catch on widely. The external memory idea was wonderful, and having a good camera on-board was a delight. The inclusion of a color screen that could more accurately portray pictures was a dream. The designs were very sleek and modern, and the build quality was excellent. So, what went wrong?

To start, the phones were smaller than what we were used to. Sony Ericsson has always packed more into less, and the market just didn’t understand that. Changeable faceplates were the craze, not great cameras. Sony Ericsson offerings were also fairly limited in style, as each phone was a candybar style phone with the same configuration. The use of a Memory Stick was great, but not the industry standard for external memory. It was just a little too much “Sony” and not enough “mobile”. A little bit too proprietary and standardized for our taste at the time.

Finding its footing

As Sony Ericsson waned here in the States, its profile grew overseas. Europe seemed to love everything about its mobile products, and it showed in the sales. While never a true market leader, Sony Ericsson had a great presence in Europe and Asia. Things seemed to be going well, and then the earth shifted on its axis.

The release of the iPhone would shake up the mobile world, and Sony Ericsson was not immune. Everyone was clamoring to get better acquainted with the snappy new device, and its ecosystem. An iPod you could make calls with seemed ideal for many, and most of us already utilized iTunes as a primary source for music. Between those two massive achievements, and the advent of games and apps, everyone was in trouble. In the span of 3 years, Sony Ericsson’s handset sales would dip from 30 million in Q4 2007 to 8 million in Q1 2011.

Sony Ericsson would, over the next few years, take drastic steps to retain its slight market share. Closing down manufacturing plants across the world, cutting the workforce, and eliminating all-important R&D facilities would be necessary to get back on solid ground. The mobile market, in fact all tech markets, were running away from Sony Ericsson’s proven strategy.

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It all falls down

Around the time Sony Ericsson was experiencing a worldwide meltdown, the world economy was following suit. As President Obama took office, and control of a gigantic economic mess, the irresponsible investments of the U.S. market were having ripple effects all over the world. The economy would rebound, but those things take time. Sony Ericsson was in deeper water than imagined.

A premium device manufacturer has no space in a financially strapped world. Sales had slowed dramatically, and reviews were changing to suit an economic mindset. Where we once praised Sony Ericsson for producing top-notch stuff, we now damned the company for its pricing policy. There were other products with similar specs, and at half the price. Sony Ericsson, it seemed, was doomed. It would take a little self evaluation before it could get on the right path.

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Silver lining

Sony has proven resilient, and the economic downturn had been a wake-up call. Sony will never compromise quality, but price is another point altogether. While the market may have drifted from Sony’s method of “top quality, top dollar”, it has not been lost on Sony. Having assumed Ericsson’s stake in the company back in 2011 would clear up any confusion about who or what Sony Ericsson was, and Sony Mobile could move forward in a pointed direction.

Its first offering as Sony Mobile, the Xperia S, was well received and packed some serious punch. A 12MP camera, external memory slot, and dedicated camera button would thrill owners. In true Sony fashion, it was a bit ahead of its time, only being offered in an unlocked version. At $549, the phone was typical of unlocked device pricing, but that was not appropriate for the market at the time. No carrier subsidy meant few would pick up this great device domestically. Once again, Sony made a great showing abroad with little attention stateside.

Recognizing the industry scope, and all its trends, Sony Mobile dedicated itself to less fragmentation. The decision to produce only smartphones – and later tablets too – is both a new direction and the same ol’ story from Sony. We’ll get great hardware as always, but deciding to focus energy in on one product line is not Sony’s bailiwick. It’s a wise move for a company that has a propensity to do too much and pay the price, and the dedication to one craft can only be beneficial to consumers.

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Boomerang effect

It can be said that Sony “is what it is”, and always has been. Sony puts out awesome hardware, as it’s the company’s strength, but has often been the only one doing so. With the mobile industry coming around to do the same, it’s like throwing fastballs right into Sony’s wheelhouse. Rather than wander aimlessly in the wild, Sony now has a rare opportunity.

If the game is great hardware, then Sony’s initials are at the top of the leaderboard. As we inch toward an Android universe where great hardware is necessary to keep up with our fabulous OS, the rest of the industry better look out. Sony has the design and hardware to make heads turn, and its innovations are still ahead of their time. No device is perfect, but the Xperia Z and ZL are potentially disruptive to the Samsung status quo.

From proprietary to priority

Android is nothing without its developers, and Sony understands that. So, when AOSP decides to focus on your device for “experimental” purposes, it’s wise to respond graciously. Sony did just that, and the project was labelled a “success” by AOSP leader Jean-Baptiste Queru. Will this lead to a Sony Nexus device in the future? Who knows. Having a good relationship with the project and and maker of your device’s OS is never a bad thing, though.

In addition to this, it seems Sony is keen to working closely with XDA developers, going so far as to give elite developers an Xperia T to play with. A bit of humble pie with a side of brilliance is a great dish for Sony, and it seems it ate it up. Sony isn’t Android’s favorite son, but it knows real support starts and ends with developers. It also gives Sony valuable feedback for future devices, allowing for a more seamless interaction.

Sony Xperia Z

Time, the great equalizer

It seems as though Sony is well on its way to becoming a very sound mobile device maker. It also is in a privileged position to really shape the mobile hardware industry, as its innovations are still out in front of the pack. Having always built very solid devices, Sony Mobile is ahead of the curve with design and functionality. If there is room to stand out in a crowd of devices that all look the same, Sony will find it.

A beautiful device does not bring success every time, though. While unlocked phones may be the global standard, the U.S. market still operates with carrier subsidy for the time being. If Sony can make the device available to the carriers, it will start to get the attention of consumers. Having an Xperia in-hand will cause many to resist putting it down.

If a final word of caution is to be levied, it’s this: don’t screw with Android. Samsung and HTC have their own spins on Android with TouchWiz and Sense, respectively, but I’d caution Sony against following suit. Adopting the developer community as a favored partner was a great step, so it should build on that. Can you imagine a Cyanogen or Paranoid Android build on an Xperia… out of the box?! Now THAT would be a leap forward.

Conclusion

The world finally caught up to Sony build quality, which makes us wonder if Sony was right all along. Sure, the pricing structure has changed, but was a premium device the answer we always needed? Perhaps we should have been paying attention to Sony the entire time, rather than toy with the likes of a nearly defunct Nokia or struggling HTC. Sony has the makings of the next Samsung, and we’d be wise to not dismiss them again.

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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for Sony Xperia S gets previewed ahead of release

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We know that the Xperia S alongside other recent Xperia models have been promised to get Android 4.1 at one point in the future. If you want some proof that Sony is still working hard to make the Jelly Bean dream comes true for its customers, check out these screenshots from the “leaked” JB firmware running on the Xperia S.

The Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean firmware for the Xperia S is an early build that has somehow made its way to the folks at XDA-developers. Apparently, there are still quite a few kinks that need to be ironed out in order for it to live up to its buttery smooth reputation.

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Some added features that Xperia S owners can expect to see include one-touch screen mirroring, power management options, a new lockscreen, and loads more.

The new firmware isn’t expected to be rolled out by Sony to the handset until April at the earliest. We’re hoping it’ll come much sooner. To make the wait more bearable, you have the screenshots to look at and enjoy.

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Excited about the Jelly Bean update? What do you think of the sneak peek? Drop your comment below.

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First look at Jelly Bean for the Sony Xperia S

A user over at XDA is giving us our first look at Android 4.1.2 for the Sony Xperia S. The long-in-development update moves the build number to 6.2.x.x.xx and a new 3.4 kernel. Aside from bumping the handset’s Android version up from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean, the new software also includes a selection of features found in newer Xperia phones.

The Xperia S will gain access to new power management options, screen mirroring, and Find My Xperia. The phone will also get a new lock screen experience. Add this on top of Jelly Bean’s standard enhancements such as Google Now and Project Butter.

There is no release date for the Android 4.1.2 update just yet — the build we see pictured here is still in testing. Even if all goes smoothly (and it sounds like there is still some work to be done), April might be the earliest we can expect Jelly Bean for the Xperia S.

[via XperiaBlog]

Sony provides updates on Xperia Jelly Bean plans; some phones not invited to party

Our friends at Sony have taken the time to update the masses on its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean rollout plans for the foreseeable future. For starters, they’ve confirmed that the Xperia T, Xperia V and Xperia TX’s upgrades will go out as planned throughout the months of February and March. The Xperia P, Xperia J and Xperia Go will all be getting their upgrades from the end of March. The Sony Xperia Acro S, Xperia S, Xperia SL and Xperia ion will follow along “in the subsequent weeks.”

These days may be a bit of ways to way, but the important thing to remember is that Sony’s still thinking about you and that you’ll be upgraded to at least one form of Jelly Bean at some point. Folks with some of Sony’s other devices aren’t so lucky as the manufacturer has confirmed that some devices would be left out of the upgrade plans.

These devices include the Sony Xperia U, Xperia miro, Xperia tipo and the Xperia sola. And note that they aren’t saying they don’t know if they’ll upgrade these phones to Jelly Bean yet — Sony has expressly confirmed that they will not go beyond Ice Cream Sandwich in the way of major, non-critical upgrades.

You’ll need to look toward Android’s great development community to see if you can get your device going on the latest and greatest Android has to offer, but as most of these aren’t Sony’s most popular devices it may be a tough task to tackle. Be sure to look into that on Google at your earliest convenience.

[via Sony]

Sony takes control of Xperia S AOSP development as Google shifts focus back to own hardware

Less than three months after Jean-Baptiste Queru from Google announced the experimental addition of the Xperia S to the Android Open Source Project, Google has decided not to pursue further development. As it stands now, the AOSP build for the Sony Xperia S is able to boot up with support for 3G...

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Sony Xperia S AOSP support ends, but project continues

Back in August, the Sony Xperia S was added to the list of target devices for the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) as part of an experiment that would hopefully see the device getting Nexus-like update support. As of today, the Xperia S has been taken off the list of target devices, but Sony hopes to continue the project.

The main reason given that Sony Xperia S AOSP support is ending is that “Google can’t maintain non-Nexus devices on the AOSP main branch in the long run.” Though the project was deemed a success by AOSP technical lead Jean-Baptiste Quéru, the Xperia S could never truly be an AOSP device because of the proprietary binaries required to actually make the phone fully functional.

Intent on continuing the project, Sony has created a GitHub repository for the existing source code and revealed their future plans for the code. As it is now, the device will boot using the AOSP code, and the SD slot, Wi-Fi and sensors are working. In the future, Sony hopes to replace some of the required binaries with open source code and eventually get Android 4.2 Jelly Bean running on the Xperia S.

Sony is hoping to get community developers involved, inviting them to check out the project in the new GitHub repository. There is a lot of work to do, so if you’re an interested developer, get started coding.

Do you think that we’ll eventually see Jelly Bean on the Sony Xperia S?

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Sony provides Jelly Bean upgrade timeline for Xperia devices, 2011 models left out

On the heels of delivering Ice Cream Sandwich to many of their 2011 and 2012 smartphones, Sony is now providing details on the upgrade to Jelly Bean. Sony plans to upgrade their entire lineup of Xperia phones from 2012, but much to the chagrin of owners of older devices, their 2011 models will not see the latest version of Android.

First to receive Android 4.1 will be Sony’s latest handsets, the Xperia T, Xperia TX, and Xperia V, but the new Android build won’t be pushed to those devices until early 2013. After the first round of Jelly Bean updates, Sony will move on to updating devices such as the Xperia S, Xperia Ion, and Xperia P. No official timeline has been given for when to expect these phones to be upgraded.

Speaking on plans to not update their 2011 handset lineup, Sony said, “Beyond Ice Cream Sandwich we would not able to guarantee owners of these smartphones the user experience you expect and we demand. We will however, continue to support all these products with firmware maintenance releases.”   At least they go them to Ice Cream Sandwich, right? Check out Sony’s blog for the full rundown of devices.

[via Sony]


Sony Xperia T, TX, V Jelly Bean upgrades coming in Q1 2013, other handsets also mentioned

Sony has some interesting plans regarding its smartphone future, but issuing timely Android updates are not part of them. The company has shared more details about its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean roll out, but in case you don’t own one of the recently launched Xperia models you won’t like what we’re about to tell you.

The lists of Jelly Bean-upgradeable Xperia devices includes only the following models:

We don’t have any actual Jelly Bean roll out details for either model, but it looks like the most recent Xperia devices – the Xperia T, TX and V – will be the first to get their Android 4.1 update. That will happen at some point in the first quarter of 2013.

In case you own 2011 Sony Android smartphones, you won’t receive any official Jelly Bean upgrade next year, so you’ll either have to stick it out with Ice Cream Sandwich, or find custom Jelly Bean-based ROMs to install on those Xperia models:

We were glad to provide the Android 4.0.4 upgrade for our 2011 Xperia portfolio across most markets and the majority of models but, after thorough evaluation, we have concluded they will not be upgraded beyond Ice Cream Sandwich.

Beyond Ice Cream Sandwich we would not able to guarantee owners of these smartphones the user experience you expect and we demand. We will however, continue to support all these products with firmware maintenance releases.

We’ll be back with more Jelly Bean upgrade details once Sony starts releasing the update.

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