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Sony Mobile releases beta Android 4.0 ROMs for the Xperia Ray, Neo V, and Arc S

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Sony Mobile is continuing to aggressively court Android fans, releasing a beta preview of its forthcoming Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Xperia Ray, Arc S, and Neo V.

Sony Xperia Ice Cream Sandwich Beta ROM 640
Sony Xperia Ice Cream Sandwich Beta ROM 640

The newly-minted Sony Mobile Communications is continuing to deliver on its consumer-friendly pledge to update all 2011 Sony Ericsson Xperia phones to Android 4.0, releasing a preview beta ROM for owners of the Xperia Arc S, Neo V, and Xperia Ray. The move follows the alpha release of ROMs for the same devices last December, but adds several new features to match the software's maturation in the development cycle. Most importantly, the GSM modem is now turned on along with the FM radio, though Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are still inactive. On the visual side, the ROMs feature a restyled email client, while also incorporating several new system-wide UI elements from Ice Cream Sandwich. The lockscreen now offers additional functionality, allowing a user to control music playback or jump directly to the camera app without unlocking the device, while a new quick dial feature speeds up the calling process. Unfortunately, the software has not yet passed final approval, so Google's own suite of apps are still missing — but Sony has confirmed that the final versions will incorporate Ice Cream Sandwich's facial-recognition unlocking feature. It's another step in Sony's aggressive courting of the Android developer community, and at the rate the company is iterating, it looks like that March release date may happen after all.