Sony is one of those companies that has some untapped potential here in the United States. At least, that's the feeling I get when I make the rounds on comment sections across the web. Every time I see a story on Sony, whether it has to do with a phone proper, rumored plans, or leaked images, the consensus seems to be: I want it. Yet, Sony can't seem to grab a secure foothold here locally.
The company's presence here in the Unites States, when it comes to the mobile industry, is pretty tame. Yes, Sony's a household name, but not so much for the same reason that one would say HTC is (or used to be). Sony's known for a lot of things, but its Android (or Windows Mobile, back in the day -- and maybe Windows Phone, some day)-based devices aren't the main reason. Or even a small one, depending on who you ask. That doesn't mean they don't make great phones, though.
Just look at the Xperia Z1S, a phone that fits all the high-profile stats of a high-end smartphone into a slightly smaller frame. For some, that's the best of both worlds, and something that a lot of other manufacturers are just actively avoiding. It's great to see at least one company making a high-end phone that doesn't come along with a huge display. Or, perhaps more accurately, cutting spec corners just because the display size shrinks.
That's all good news, but it doesn't count for much if the Sony devices that people are excited about don't see the light of day in more places, or on more carriers. The aforementioned Xperia Z1S, for example, is only going to see a launch window on T-Mobile's network -- a move that's been repeated more times than we should want to count. It's great that Sony and T-Mobile have a great deal worked out, but I think a lot of people would like to see the manufacturer extend that to, say, AT&T and Verizon. And probably even Sprint.
Maybe that'll happen. Until then, we've just go to work with what we have.
I like Sony's devices, but I'm not a huge fan of their custom software. It just hasn't grown on me. It's not terrible, and I probably like it more than I do TouchWiz or LG's offering, but I'd still much prefer to not use it. That's why when I saw that new images of an upcoming updated version of their proprietary software had made it online, I just had to take a look.
Overall, it doesn't look like much is changing. Not at face value. However, Sony's taking cues from the Samsung, and they look to be the right ones. For example, Sony's reportedly including an "easy mode" alternative, which they're apparently calling "Simple Home." As you can see in that top image, it changes the icons to bigger, more readable versions of their former selves, and sections it all of in nice, big blocks. You can also create Folders, which is a nice addition. Making some subtle changes to the overall theme of the device is nice, too.
One nod they're giving HTC is a BlinkFeed-look-alike, with Sony's "What's New" feature. Unlike BlinkFeed, though, you'll have to call up What's New by sliding your finger up from the on-screen Home button, much like you would with Google Now. Once you activate it, you'll get information that's tiled in different sized boxes. A nice addition, to say the least. And, it's good that it's not just a standard home screen that you have to accept into your life (until an update lands).
I'll have to wait to hold final judgment, obviously, but right now, based on these early screens that could possibly not be anything at all, I'm curious. Consider my curiosity piqued. If this new version of their custom software is going to land on the rumored 'Sirius' device, I'll certainly be looking forward to what Sony has up their sleeve.
Now, let's just see it launched on more carriers, yeah?