Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM available for unlocked Xperia™ phones

To show our continuous support to the open developer community, and get your valuable feedback, we are today making an alpha ROM of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.1) for Xperia™ arc S, Xperia™ neo V and Xperia™ ray available for download. This is something we have not done before, and we are obviously very excited about it. 

This ROM is strictly targeting advanced developers, and it will not work for ordinary everyday usage, as it only has a limited set of features working (you can for example not make any phone calls). Several more legal and usage conditions apply – please see the Important information section below for more details.

As you read this, a few weeks have passed since the source code for Ice Cream Sandwich was released. Since then, the Sony Ericsson engineering teams have been working hard on all the activities needed to roll out the final software upgrade of Ice Cream Sandwich for the 2011 Xperia™, as previously described in our article Ice Cream Sandwich – from source code to software upgrade.

Creating a full software upgrade is a complex process involving hardware bring up of the lower software layers, software and feature adaptations, certifications and approvals. However, even though we are now in the Bring up phase, we wanted to release a snapshot of where we are today, for advanced developers in the open community who want to try it out.

Important information
Since this is far from the final software upgrade roll out, there are a few things to pay close attention to before you download and install the ROM:

  • You should be an advanced developer with extensive knowledge in how to install, and switch between different ROMs. If you are a consumer without these developer skills, then we strongly recommend you not do try this as you may damage your phone.
  • You must be using Xperia™ arc S, Xperia™ neo V or Xperia™ ray, running the latest Sony Ericsson software release (which is 4.0.2.A.0.42). Please note that you can’t use the original Xperia™ arc or Xperia™ neo, as they have different partition layouts.
  • You must unlock your phone using Sony Ericsson’s Unlock boot loader service, and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply. Please note that you may void the warranty of your phone and/or any warranty from your operator if you unlock the boot loader of your phone. Sony Ericsson can then no longer guarantee the full functionality of your phone, and will not be responsible for any unusable functions or loss of personal data associated to the alpha ROM being flashed to the phone. Please pay special attention to the following legal statement before downloading (the full statement is available on the download link):

“You must acknowledge that the software is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, express, or implied, and to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”

  • Also, if you unlock the boot loader, you will not be able to download and install the final Ice Cream Sandwich software upgrade from Sony Ericsson. For additional information on limitations and warranty, please see the Sony Ericsson Unlock boot loader service.
  • You should have read through and acknowledged the limitations of the software described below. 
  • You must read and accept the end user license agreement on the download link, before you can download the alpha ROM zip file.

Limitations and functionality
The number of features and functionalities working and turned on in this alpha ROM are very limited. This is because many features are not yet certified, and in a few cases because we have more work to do on certain features, as they are still in the Bring up phase. These are some of the features turned off or not yet working in this alpha ROM: 

  • Google Mobile Services (GMS) apps are not included (for example, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.).
  • Modem is turned off and SIM card will therefore not be recognised (this also means you can’t make any phone calls).
  • Bluetooth™ is turned off.
  • Wi-Fi® is turned off.
  • ANT+ is turned off.
  • FM-radio is turned off.

In other words, this software is not intended for ordinary everyday usage – it is for demonstration purposes only. However, this alpha ROM includes a number of new features:

  • New “Roboto” font.
  • New “Holo” theme is supported (you are able to test apps written to make use of the Holo theme).
  • Music player control from lock screen.
  • Updated UI in the Settings menu.
  • Updated UI in the web browser.
  • Updated UI and interaction with the new messaging action bar.
  • Updated UI for improved multitasking.
  • Swipe to dismiss notifications, tasks and browser tabs in the Notification menu.

Check out the video in the beginning to see a demo of some of these features!

Download and install
Follow the instructions below to download and install the alpha ROM. Please note that it only works with Xperia™ arc S, Xperia™ neo V and Xperia™ ray.

  1. Make sure your phone is running the latest software release, which is build number 4.0.2.A.0.42. If not, upgrade your phone through PC Companion. If you can’t upgrade to this build number, it is not possible to try the Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM for Xperia™ phones.
  2. Go to unlockbootloader.sonyericsson.com  and unlock the boot loader of your phone. To do this, you must read through and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply. 
  3. Download the Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM for Xperia™ arc S (132MB), the Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM for Xperia™ neo V (131MB) or the Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM for Xperia™ ray  (132MB) depending on your phone model.
  4. Extract the downloaded zip file to your Android Fastboot directory. For example: ..android-sdkfastbootXperia_arcS_ICS_alpha.
  5. Open a command prompt and go to your Fastboot directory: ..android-sdkfastboot
  6. Flash the three alpha ROM files one at a time using Fastboot. Use these three commands (replace the folder name if you are using Xperia™ neo V or Xperia™ ray):
    • fastboot flash boot ..FastbootXperia_arcS_ICS_alphaboot.img
    • fastboot flash userdata ..FastbootXperia_arcS_ICS_alphauserdata.img
    • fastboot flash system ..FastbootXperia_arcS_ICS_alphasystem.img
  7. Once done, please reboot your phone.

Please let us know what you think about this alpha ROM
Another ambition with this release is to work with all of the talented developers in the open community to get feedback on this alpha ROM. If you download and install the alpha ROM, please try out the software and go to our Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM survey for Xperia™ phones, to send us your feedback. It is very much appreciated – the summary of this survey will be used for future product and software strategies short term and long term. Your voice counts!

Additional feedback
If you want to discuss this alpha ROM initiative, please check out the Ice Cream Sandwich alpha ROM for Xperia thread on the XDA forum. Here you can discuss with other developers, and ask questions to us. We will monitor this thread and reply to any questions as soon as we can. If you have any additional ideas on what you would like us to do, feel free to drop us a comment below!

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