Sony is not a name best associated with smartphones. Most people know it as the company that made the Walkman and that makes the PlayStation. It does manufacture smartphones though and some pretty decent ones at that. Their Xperia line never really took off but it did manage to carve out a small niche in a world dominated by Samsung and Apple. The company managed to do so because they stuck to some of the things that make the Xperia devices unique. Things like the bold boxy designs, and some really great stock apps from Sony. Maybe they stuck at it for too long actually depending on who you ask. I’ve used many smartphones over the years and the stock Sony Xperia apps were the best when it came to pre-loaded apps.
For a long time, any phone I had, I just had to have the Sony apps on it by rooting or by any other means. They had the looks and they had the features and truly stood out. Eventually, I decided the apps were becoming more and more generic and weren’t worth the trouble. Also slowly as well, installing these apps on non-Sony devices was becoming less and less troublesome. As it is now, you can simply download an app’s APK and install it like you would install any other app and they just work.
You don’t need to flash anything, you don’t need root to make them system apps, nothing. You will be compromising on a few things such as the Music app not having any Audio settings. Sony’s audio prowess is only for their own Xperia devices and porting them without root might not be possible. On some devices, the Album app might fail to read images from your external SD card unless granted permissions, which it may not ask for. These apps are meant to be installed on devices with a near stock Android like ROM. So Samsung, Huawei and especially MIUI users may have trouble running some of these apps.
XDA senior member omikron20 actually ports these apps and maintains a thread so you can keep track of all the updates. Meaning if you ever want to update, you will have to manually check out the thread and download another APK. Not the most ideal solution but it is what you get without root. In case you do have a rooted device, you can actually install all of Sony’s apps from the Google Play Store.
Below is a list of the Sony apps omikron20 has ported with some inputs from my experience with the apps. I have used both the original Sony apps on an Xperia device and each of these ports on a non-Sony device as well. At least the ones that worked. The ones that I don’t have anything to say about are just not as amazing as the others. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad but that they’re just typical stock apps with a Sony feel to them.
I was a fan of Sony’s Album app and an even bigger fan of their music player app fondly named WALKMAN. At a time when Android, in general, didn’t look so good Sony’s apps were ahead of their time. Of late though with Material Design being such a hit Sony’s apps have been updated and still look just as good. I wouldn’t say the same about the Sony Music app which kind of lost its charm. Yes, the Sony Music app because the WALKMAN branding was removed now that Sony has revived the WALKMAN series. In fact, I kind of reviewed an older version of the Sony Music app. It is still one of the most feature-packed stock Music apps I have used to date.
The Album app is also quite good in its own right and is definitely one of the more advanced OEM gallery apps you’ll find. But it is the interface that I’m a fan of where the most recent image, no matter the source is always displayed on top. All your images are organized in a Chronological order. There is also a folder view to find photos a bit faster if you know where exactly they are. On Sony devices you can also see all your Facebook pictures right in the Album app, you might not have that on the ported Album app.
The Video app looks good but I don’t have much else to say about it. It was quite generic when it came to features from the very beginning and it still is. I only had it to complete the set, Music, Album, Videos.
Xperia Home has been a favorite of mine despite being a fan of Nova Launcher. In fact, Sony’s launcher made me move away from Nova and it wasn’t for a couple of years that I left it because I got a new phone which wasn’t Xperia. Once again, for a stock launcher, it is pretty good. It even supports Google Now integration and third-party icon-packs that you’d find in the Play Store.
This has also been my favorite keyboard while I had a Xperia phone but not necessarily because it is packed with features like Swiftkey. It just was more accurate than some other keyboards I had used and it looked good while doing it. It offers suggestions for email addresses and user IDs as well which is why I preferred it over Gboard. That could be a security risk but it doesn’t offer password suggestions and everything remains offline so it’s all good.
Here you’ll find some of Sony’s pretty looking stock widgets to use with you ported Xperia Home launcher.