Info & Phones News
OmniVision today indicated it has received an acquisition offer from China-based venture capitalists. Hua Capital Management offered $29 per share for OmniVision, which values the company at about $1.67 billion. OmniVision makes camera sensors for smartphones and tablets. Its chips are found in devices such as the Apple iPhone. OmniVision's products compete with those from Sony, Samsung, and others. OmniVision, which is based in California, said it is evaluating the offer.
Sony today said it won't support PlayStation Mobile for Android moving forward. PlayStation Mobile gave select Sony Android handsets access to old PSOne titles in addition to those developed specifically for PS Mobile. According to Sony, PlayStation Certified devices running Android 4.4.2 and below will continue to be able to access the service. Devices running Android 4.4.3 and up will be able to access it, but may run into compatibility and performance issues. Devices running Android Release L (which is not yet available) won't be able to access PlayStation Mobile at all. Sony said it won't grant PlayStation Certified status to any more devices. Separately, Sony also announced plans to exit the e-reader market. It cited its inability to compete with devices such as the Amazon Kindle as playing a role in the decision.
Sony plans to make a large investment its in imaging business and will increase production of CMOS sensors for mobile devices. The company will spend as much as $345 million to improve the capacity of its sensor-making facilities. Sony has already purchased several new manufacturing plants. The company currently makes about 60,000 sensors a month. It will improve those yields to 68,000 by August 2015 and eventually 75,000 by the end of 2015. Sony makes CMOS sensors for its own smartphones and tablets, but also for other manufacturers, such as Apple.
Sony recently made the Xperia Z2 available to U.S. buyers via its web store. The Z2, which was announced in January, costs $699 and is being sold unlocked. The Z2 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 20.7-megapixel camera with 4K video capture, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, and various sensors/radios. It is also water and dust resistant. The Z2 is compatible with the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony typically offers its smartphones through its web store when they aren't sold by wireless network operators.
Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm recently announced plans to test spectrum-sharing technology in the 3.5 GHz band. The band is used for military radar systems, but the FCC believes the band can be shared with commercial uses in some situations. This new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band is being considered for various licensed and unlicensed shared uses by the FCC. Verizon wants to use the band to add download capacity to its LTE network in high-demand areas like stadiums, college campuses, or airports. The band is currently 3550-3650 MHz, although the FCC is also considering stretching it to 3700 MHz.
Sony recently added the Xperia Z1 Compact to its U.S. web store. Sony is selling the phone unlocked for the full retail price of $549. It is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's HSPA+/LTE networks. The Z1 Compact, which was introduced in January, has many features found on the Z1S flagship device, including a 20.7-megapixel Exmor camera sensor with G Lens, IP58 rating for protection from water immersion, and Sony applications and services, such as Video and Music Unlimited. The Z1 Compact has a 4.3-inch 720p HD TriLuminos display with Sony's mobile Bravia Engine, and a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. The Xperia Z1 Compact runs Android 4.4 KitKat.
Google today announced Android TV, a new platform that will bring certain features of the Android operating system to smart TVs. The platform can be embedded in HDTVs, as well as installed in stand-alone boxes. It lets Android smartphones and tablets connect directly to TVs and control them. Android TV supports Play Store content, including games, and third party apps. Some of the initial batch of apps that will work on Android TV include Netflix, Plex, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, and others. Further, Android TV supports casting, which will let Android smartphone and tablet owners push content from their mobile device to Android TV. The Google Play store for television sets will launch in the fall, as will Android TV set top boxes. Television makers such as Sony and Sharp will incorporate Android TV into their 2015 lineup. Google also talked about its Chromecast product. Chromecast is a thumb drive plug-in for HDTVs that can project audio and video content from Android devices to TVs. Until today, Chromecast required users to connect via the same Wi-Fi network. Chromecast is being updated, however, with the ability to cast from separate Wi-Fi networks. This means people can push content to a TV even when they aren't there or even nearby. The tool uses Google's cloud for authentication. Chromecast also adds the ability to exactly mirror what's on the screen of Android smartphones and tablets. The new features for Chromecast will arrive later this year.
Sony recently released an application for the Xperia Z2 called Live on YouTube. The app allows the Xperia Z2 handset to stream live video feeds directly to YouTube. The app follows the path set by Sony's Social Live application, released last year, which lets Xperia devices broadcast live video directly to Facebook. The new app permits streaming of up to 15 minutes of live 480p footage, which is then recorded and stored on the owner's YouTube channel. The app displays likes/dislikes, and allows Z2 owners to adjust the privacy of videos as well as share them after the live stream ends. The app requires a verified YouTube account in good standing. It is free for Z2 owners and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Sony announced the Z2 earlier this year, though it has yet to release the phone in the U.S. According to Sony, the Z2 will be made available to U.S. consumers this summer via its web site, where it will be sold unlocked at full price.
The European Commission and South Korea today announced plans to together define the future 5G wireless standard, as well as develop the technologies to support it. The two bodies signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G to increase the discussions and research around the topic. A wide number of companies will participate, including Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Telefonica from Europe, as well as Samsung, LG, SK Telecom, and others in Korea. One of the key ideas behind 5G is not to just increase speeds, but to significantly boost capacity. Capacity improvements will help the 5G networks of the future handle all the potential devices connecting to them, such as phones, tablets, wearables, vehicles, and the broader Internet of Things. The collaboration has three main goals: First, to develop a broad definition of the key functionalities of 5G and create a time table for its creation by the end of 2015; Second, to kick off joint research in the pursuit of 5G by 2016 in coordination with 3GPP and ITU: and Third, to agree on global radio frequency bands for 5G in order to promote interoperability and roaming between carriers and countries. "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognize this," said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardization. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders." LTE, which is what most 4G networks use, has some room for growth in terms of speeds, but capacity is limited and the potential for global roaming is limited due to the wide number of spectrum bands used by carriers around the world. It is these and other issues that the EU and S. Korea hope to resolve in their pursuit of 5G.
The Federal Communications Commission today said that Sony Mobile will voluntarily make a $400,000 payment after it was found to violate U.S. law requiring devices to be compliant with hearing aids. The FCC discovered that Sony sold non-compliant devices during a 12-month period in 2011 and 2012. In addition to the payment for selling devices that don't work with hearing aids, Sony agreed to name a compliance officer within 30 days and ensure all devices are compliant with U.S. law within 60 days. Sony did not comment on the FCC's decision.
ZTE today said it plans to push into the high-end smartphone market controlled by the likes of Apple, HTC, LG, Samsung, and Sony. According to Reuters, sales of ZTE's mid-range and entry-level handsets are strong, but margins are too thin. The company wants to use high-end handsets to help increase its margins. "We will make more and more premium smartphones," said ZTE's Zeng Xuezong to Reuters. The company wants to trade its image as a low-cost phone maker for one that rivals the current market leaders. "There is indeed a gap between the brand awareness of Chinese companies and those top global brands, and this is what our team is trying to build for consumers" with handsets such as the Nubia Z5, said Zeng. ZTE believes it can increase is worldwide sales from 40 million units in 2013 to as much as 100 million units by 2016. In the U.S., it is seeking to raise its marketshare from 6% to 10% by 2017 with the help of premium devices and by spending more money on marketing. Most of the ZTE handsets available in the U.S. are entry-level devices sold by prepaid or low-cost carriers.
Sony today made the SmartBand fitness accessory available through its U.S. web site for $99. The SmartBand, announced during Mobile World Congress, connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and Sony's LifeLog app for fitness monitoring.
Sony today announced the Xperia T3, an Android smartphone with mid-range features and a premium design. The T3 borrows heavily from Sony's Z2 smartphone with a metallic rim and a slim, 7mm profile. The T3 includes a 5.3-inch 720p HD LCD screen with in-plane switching and Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine 2 for added clarity. The device is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage. The T3 offers an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.1-megapixel user-facing camera. The main imager boasts features such as HDR for photos and video, image stabilizer, object tracking, red-eye reduction, Sony's Superior Auto function, panorama, and more. Connectivity options include LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and Miracast. The Xperia T3 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and relies on Sony's user experience, which includes Stamina Mode, Xperia SociaLife, and Sony's wide range of media applications. The Sony Xperia T3 will launch globally before August.
Sony today said a handful of its Xperia smartphones should see the Android 4.4 KitKat system update arrive in the near future. Devices slated for the upgrade include the Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, and Xperia Tablet Z. In addition to KitKat, the update carries over the new user interface from the PlayStation 4, which includes new animations and wallpapers, and improved status bar and quick setting tools. The update brings a handful of core apps up to date, including messaging, email, Stamina mode, the smart social camera, as well as Sony's Walkman, Album, and Movies apps. Last, the new system software adds compatibility with Sony's SmartWear products, including the SmartBand SWR10 and Lifelog app. As always, exact timing of the update's arrival will depend on device, carrier, and region.
Huawei today unveiled the Ascend P7 at an event held in Paris. The P7 is a successor to the P6 and is Huawei's flagship device for the year. The P7 features a full HD 5-inch display protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3. The phone has glass on the front and back, and a metallic band on the sides. The phone is very thin and measures 6.5mm. The P7 includes a 13-megapixel camera with a Sony sensor inside. The Sony sensor makes use of back-side illumination and has a wide aperture of f/2. According to Huawei, the P7 can be ready to shoot pictures in 1.2 seconds - even from the lock screen. Huawei created a feature for the camera called Voice Photos, which will record a 10-second audio clip to accompany a series of pictures. The P7 also includes an 8-megapixel user-facing camera for self portraits. Huawei says the user-facing camera can shoot wide panoramas. The P7 runs Android and has Huawei's Emotion user interface. Huawei added support for worldwide LTE 4G networks. The Ascend P7 launches in a wide number of markets this month, but Huawei didn't specify if or when the P7 might arrive in the U.S.
Sony recently posted an image on its official Google+ page that showed a version of the Xperia Z2 with Verizon Wireless branding. According to Sony, the image didn't represent a real device. "A mock-up image was mistakenly posted to the Sony Mobile Google+ page. The image has since been removed and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused," said Sony in an email to Phone Scoop. The image suggested that Verizon might eventually sell the Z2. Sony says't that's not the case. "For our U.S. customers eager to find out more information about the availability of Xperia Z2, we are excited to share that the device will be coming to the U.S. unlocked this summer."
Sony today announced a limited-time app and service offering for the Z2, Z1s, and Z1 that it claims has a value of more than $350. According to Sony, the Z2 will be shipped with six movies on board, as well as a 30-day trial of the Music Unlimited service, eight games from PlayStation Mobile, and a free download of the upcoming Michael Jackson album, XSCAPE. Sony is further providing the full Garmin suite, the full version of OfficeSuite Pro, 10 Xperia themes, and other games and apps. The package also includes 50GB of Box storage for life, Evernote premium for three months, 1TB of Bitcasa storage for three months, and Social Live Premium for one month. In order to grab these offers, Xperia owners need to install the Xperia Lounge application from Sony. Links to the individual offers are available from within the Xperia Lounge app. The offers are available from today until July 31. The Z1s is available from T-Mobile in the U.S., but the Z2 has yet to launch stateside.
The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.
Sony today announced the availability of its Lifelog application, which runs on its Android smartphones and interacts with Sony's wearable devices, such as the SmartBand. Together, Lifelog and the SmartBand can track the wearer's daily activity and over time be used to spot trends and patterns to behavior and sleep. Lifelog and the SmartBand are optimized for the Xperia Z2, which has yet to launch in the U.S., but they also work with the Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact handsets from Sony. Sony said though the initial feature list of the app is rather short, it will be updating Lifelog over the next few weeks with more functionality.
Sony Mobile's U.S. chief, Ravi Nookala, said the company will not use Google's Android Wear platform for wearables such as smartwatches and will instead use its own platform. Speaking to CNET, Nookala said the company has invested time and money into developing its own Android-based wearable operating system "and we will continue in that direction." Sony released its second-generation smartwatch last year and recently unveiled the SmartBand fitness wearable.
Sony today announced what it says is the first "wearable boarding pass." Sony has partnered with an airline called Vueling, which made an app for Sony's SmartWatch 2 wearable device. According to Sony, the app can be used to display 2D barcodes for boarding, and also offers flight information and other travel details that can be gleaned from the SmartWatch 2. The app will be available through the Google Play Store at the end of the month.
Sony today announced that the Android 4.4 KitKat system update is now available to the Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra. In addition to the base software from Google, Sony added a number of its own tweaks to the operating system. For example, Sony added its own Status Bar and Quick Settings tools, as well as user interface elements borrowed from the PlayStation 4. The update includes the latest versions of Sony's own software and apps, such as Small Apps, Smart Social Camera, Messaging, as well as Walkman, Movies, and the Sony Entertainment Network. Last, the update includes Sony's recently-announced Xperia Themes, which are downloadable user interface packs that let Xperia device owners customize the look and feel of their handset with more than 280 possible tweaks. As always, the exact timing of the KitKat update's arrival will vary by country and carrier. Sony said it is prepared to roll out Android 4.4 KitKat to the Xperia Z, ZL, Tablet Z, and ZR from the middle of the second quarter.
Sony today announced Xperia Themes, which are downloads that allow owners of Sony's Xperia smartphones to customize the look and feel of their device. Xperia Themes go far beyond adding new wallpapers. Users can adjust the appearance of icons, fonts, lines and boxes, and UI elements such as switches, sliders, buttons, and even the on-screen Android control buttons. According to Sony, the themes let people customize their device in a way that previously required third-party launchers. It should be easy for most people to use. There are about a dozen themes available starting today, but Sony said that many more are on the way. Xperia Themes are available to all Xperia devices running Android 4.3 and higher. They can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Sony this week announced plans to shutter two-thirds of its U.S. retail stores. It will keep several open, including its New York City flagship location. The move is being made as part of a cost-cutting measure. Along with the store closings, Sony plans to cut about 1,000 jobs in the U.S. and Mexico, amidst global cuts of 5,000. Last, Sony said that it plans to sell its old headquarters building in Tokyo. Sony used the building, which is now a home for several other businesses, from 1990 to 2007. The planned sale of its old headquarters follows Sony's sale last year of its Madison Avenue building in NYC for $1.1 billion. Sony announced several new devices at Mobile World Congress this week, including the Xperia Z2 and M2 smartphones, the Z2 tablet, and the SmartBand wearable.
Here is a first look at Sony's new flagship and mid-range Android smartphones. Both are thin and light and loaded with all things Sony.
Sony today announced the Xperia Z2, its latest flagship Android smartphone. The Z2 picks up with the Z1/Z1S left off. It uses Sony's omnibalance design language and is formed by two glass panels and an aluminum frame. The Z2 features a 5.2-inch 1080p HD LED X-Reality display that makes use of Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine for added clarity. Sony has improved the water and dust resistance of the phone, so it is able to spend more time submerged than before. The device includes a 20.7-megapixel main camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor and G Lens. It is able to capture 4K video and includes multiple microphones to eliminate noise and capture stereo sound. It can shoot 1080p HD video at up to 120 frames per second for slow-motion playback, and it can make use of new augmented reality backgrounds for creative results. The Z2 is run by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with four cores clocked at 2.3GHz each, paired with the Adreno 330 GPU. It includes a wide array of Sony apps and services, such as Walkman, Music Unlimited, PlayStation, and Play Memories Online. The Z2 has a 3,200mAh battery and Sony's Stamina Mode software to improve battery life. It measures 8.2mm thick and offers the expected set of connectivity options, such as NFC, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and LTE. The Sony Xperia Z2 will be available worldwide in April.
Sony today announced the Xperia M2, a mid-range Android smartphone that offers both performance and value. The M2 makes use of Sony's omnibalance design language, but steps down the features when compared to its flagship devices. It includes a 4.8-inch qHD display, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, LTE 4G, and a 2,300mAh battery. The M2 includes an 8-megapixel main camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor. It can shoot HDR images and offers a handful of Sony's advanced camera functions, such as Intelligent Auto. The M2 also offers Sony's entertainment services, such as Music Unlimited and Walkman. The Xperia M2 will launch globally in April. Sony will also offer a dua-SIM variant of the M2 to select markets.
Sony today announced the SmartBand SWR10, a smartphone accessory that offers a variety of fitness and alert functions. The SmartBand is a fully waterproof band worn on the wrist that pairs with smartphones via NFC and Bluetooth. It is accompanied by an Android application called LifeLog. The LifeLog app and SmartBand together track the wearer's steps, activity, sleep cycles, and more. The LifeLog app can be used to set health and fitness goals, as well as track progress. The SmartBand can also be used to control the Walkman music player on Sony smartphones, as well as provide vibrating alerts for incoming calls, messages, emails, and social media activity. According to Sony, the SmartBand was developed using open standards and it is encouraging developers to expand the functionality of the accessory via LifeLog. Sony said the SmartBand SWR10 will be available globally beginning in March. Pricing was not disclosed.
Sony today said the Android 4.3 system update is now available to a smattering of its Xperia devices. Owners of the Xperia T, Xperia TX, Xperia V, and Xperia SP will be able to update their devices soon, though exact timing will depend on carrier and region.
Sony today announced plans to restructure its business and divest some of its poorly performing units. Sony plans to sell its PC division to a group of Japanese investors, which will form a separate company and take over operations. Sony will retain a 5% stake in the new business. Sony will also split off its TV business into a separate company. Last, Sony plans to cut about 5,000 jobs, including some from the PC and TV businesses. The TV spin-off should be complete by July, but the job reductions won't be finalized until March 2015. Sony believes these moves will help shore up its PlayStation, content, imaging, and mobile device businesses, and save the company about $988 million per year.
Sony today announced that its Xperia Transfer application is now available worldwide in the Google Play Store. Xperia Transfer Mobile is a smartphone version of Sony's desktop app that makes it easier to port contacts and other data from one device to another. According to Sony, the new Android app negates the need to use a desktop machine at all, as it allows users to transfer personal data directly from an old phone to a new phone using a peer-to-peer connection or cable. Xperia Transfer can sync contacts, calendar, SMS, MMS, bookmarks, notes, photos, music, videos, and apps. The app can transfer data from another Android device or from an iPhone. Sony said if iOS apps aren't available in Android form, it will suggest comparable apps/services to replace them on the Xperia smartphone. Xperia Transfer is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Rockstar, a patent consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony, has dropped its patent infringement lawsuit against Huawei. The suit was originally filed last year, and included co-defendents Google, Samsung, and HTC. Rockstar believes the companies are violating its patents. Neither Rockstar nor Huawei indicated why the suit was dropped, nor whether or not Huawei signed a licensing agreement with Rocktar. The lawsuit still stands against the other companies. Google, in particular, is accused of infringing on seven different patents that pertain to internet search terms and advertising. Rockstar is seeking damages from Google, which it says is violating the patents willfully. Rockstar is a group of companies that together purchased thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel. The firms spent a total of $4.5 billion on the patents.
Sony knows that some people prefer smaller smartphones. That's why it shrunk the dimensions of the Xperia Z1 to create the Z1 Compact. Don't let the Z1 Compact's small size fool you, however; it's quite a powerhouse.
Sony revealed the Z1 Compact at CES this week, a new, smaller Android smartphone that offers many of the features found in the Z1S in a miniature package. It carries over the 20.7-megapixel Exmor camera sensor with G Lens, IP58 rating for protection from water immersion, and Sony applications and services, such as Video and Music Unlimited. The Z1 Compact has a 4.3-inch 720p HD TriLuminos display with Sony's mobile Bravia Engine, and a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. The Xperia Z1 Compact runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and supports various HSPA+ and LTE bands. It will be available in four different colors and will ship later this year.
Sony announced the Xperia Z1S for T-Mobile, today. The device impresses with its waterproof design and high build quality. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.
T-Mobile today announced that it will sell the Sony Xperia Z1S smartphone. The Z1S is a version of the Z1 that has been optimized for T-Mobile's network and has several other, minor hardware adjustments. The Z1 was first announced in September 2013. The Xperia Z1S features a 20.7-megapixel camera that has BIONZ for mobile image processing engine, a G Lens, and a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor. The camera has a burst mode than shoots 61 images: 30 before you press the shutter button, 1 when you press the shutter button, and 30 more after the shutter button has been pressed. Other camera features include an augmented reality mode that puts subjects in themed locations, such as with dinosaurs. The Z1S has a 5-inch full HD display with TriLuminos and X-Reality processing engines. It is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM, and comes with 16GB of internal storage. It is waterproof and can stand up to 30 minutes in 4.9 feet of water. It includes Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0LE. It runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. T-Mobile said customers can preorder the Xperia Z1S beginning January 13 and it will be available online and in stores beginning January 22. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down with 24 monthly payments of $23 with the Simple Choice Plan. Further, Sony is offering customers who by the Xperia Z1S and PlayStation 4 a $100 Visa gift card. Last, the device comes with six free movie downloads from Sony's Video Unlimited service, as well as a 60-day free trial of Music Unlimited.
Sony Mobile today announced that it is making Android 4.3 available to a handful of its smartphones. Android 4.3 is now available for the Xperia Z, the Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, and the Xperia Tablet Z. In addition to the core system update, Sony is modernizing its own apps across all the devices. For example, it is adding the Sony Smart Social Camera application, and improved versions of Messaging, MyXperia, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, Sony Select, and the Sony Walkman app. Last, Sony is launching Xperia Themes, which are user interface theme packs that allow users to tweak the appearance of their device. Sony said the exact availability of the system update will vary by region and carrier.
Sony has appointed a new president in charge of its U.S. division. Michael Fasulo has been named president of Sony's U.S. operations, as well as the executive vice president in charge of sales. Fasulo replaces Phil Molyneux, who is scheduled to become non-executive chairman of the board effective January 1, 2014. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai hopes the changes will bolster sales of Sony devices in the U.S., including its smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions, and other equipment.
Sony today announced the availability of the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update to the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z Ultra. In addition to the core system update, Sony is modernizing its own apps across both devices. For example, it is adding the Sony Smart Social Camera application to the Z Ultra, and adding improved versions of Messaging, MyXperia, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, Sony Select, and the Sony Walkman app to both phones. Last, Sony is launching Xperia Themes, which are user interface theme packs that allow users to tweak the appearance of their device. Sony said the exact availability of the system update will vary by region and carrier.
Google today made a Play Edition variant of the Sony Z Ultra available for sale in the Play Store. The Z Ultra has all the same specs as the standard version, but like the Play Edition HTC One and Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4, it runs stock Android 4.4 KitKat. Google is selling the Play Edition Z Ultra for $649. It comes unlocked and is compatible with the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile.