This is Sony’s Concept for Marshmallow, and it’s very promising

by: Nirave GondhiaNovember 20, 2015

When it comes to Android UI, OEMs take their own approach, and for Sony, its interface hasn’t seemed as polished as some of its rival OEMs. However, the company is using its Concept for Marshmallow program as an opportunity to learn from customer feedback. After a few days with the update, is Sony’s interface about to get the major overhaul it needs?

Sony’s hardware is definitely premium but its software has been somewhat lacklustre, with elements such as Small Apps still present despite a lack of positive user feedback. Sony’s interface has traditionally been quite slow, but one thing you’ll immediately notice about is just how fast and fluid Sony’s Marshmallow update is.

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Prior to Marshmallow, Sony adopted a similar approach to some of its rivals by customising large parts of the Android experience, but this resulted in a sluggish experience. With its Marshmallow update, Sony has adopted the “less is more” approach, and, like Motorola, it is running an almost-stock version of Marshmallow with just a few small Sony changes and tweaks.

The first thing you’ll notice is the Sony launcher, which looks similar to previous versions but has been improved to make it faster. The launcher comes with two options: the classic Android home screen and a ‘modern’ interface with all of your apps on the home screen. Alongside the launcher, Sony has also tweaked the settings app to include more options than present on stock Android and the changes are certainly welcome.

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As you might have expected based on past handsets, Sony has replaced the stock Gallery and Music Player apps with its own Album and Music applications. Both applications are essentially basic in features, but it’s worth remembering that this is concept software and we’re likely to see further enhancements to both apps before release.

Sony’s other additions to the OS include its Xperia Care application, which provides quick access to support topics and warranty information, as well as helping you customise your smartphone. The camera app has also been replaced with one of Sony’s own making, and, a key change is the speed of the app, with photos now capturing and loading much faster. There are also fewer camera apps preinstalled, and the options are minimal, packaged inside a sleek and relatively easy-to-use camera experience.

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Sony has become synonymous with being slow with updates for its smartphones, but if the Concept for Marshmallow is anything to go by, this will hopefully be fixed going forward. In the past week, there have been 7 updates including two inside three hours. While it’s worth remembering updates are likely to be less frequent with the final release, it’s still reassuring to see Sony can roll out updates frequently.

What do you take away from Sony’s Concept for Marshmallow project? It’s really simple – Sony is finally fixing its software and if the final product is as quick as this beta, Sony may yet find its smartphone division regain profitability. The Concept for Marshmallow project is a vision of a new Sony and this is how all Sony smartphones should be – fast, fluid and no silly preloaded apps, just a clean experience with a few small additions to the stock OS.

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What do you think of Sony’s Concept for Marshmallow and are you looking forward to the update for your Sony smartphone? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!

  • Leonardo Pimplapure

    This looks very promising, reminds me of CM. I have the z5 and the experience is similar to that of AOSP ROM with mods. I like the fact that the soft keys have been updated. That odd shaped home button used to do my nut in. Any ideas when it will be released?

  • Syed Ibrahim

    HI guys,
    I am in UK and I have received this update in October after i signup with Sony concept project.

    I must say my Z3C has changed drastically after the updates. I am enjoying it using more now. it is 70% stock marshmallow. There are only 2 Xperia options (Support and Email) they got rid of all other bloatware. Battery life has changed and it is giving me around 4hrs to 4hr 50mins (5 hours as well on few occasions) battery time.

    Every week they sent you a survey about different functions. It is very stable lets hope that final version will be the same.

    • jirokanz

      Hi, could you tell me whether the flex storage works or not? Thanks.

      • Syed Ibrahim

        Did not used it yet.

    • Saikrishna

      Wow thats a good news bro what about the camera quality?

      • Syed Ibrahim

        LOL it is same but they took survey about it so not sure if they gonna improve it.

      • There’s a camera update v2cdont know if its in Marshmallow however… Hope so

    • Anantha Krishna

      The bloatware will come back with the final version. That is how all preview versions work.

  • hansip

    I do hope that small app doesn’t go the way of dodo until multi window is native in Android. And plus i have specially developed small apps for 2 years now, just don’t like if it’s gone to drain that fast with Android 6.

    • Syed Ibrahim

      there is no small app option. it is like im using nexus 5 or 5X with slightly better UI

      • hansip

        Yes because it’s still a concept. Sony might add in near future once every function works as intended. Might be new location to launch, or adding small app launcher as a setting dropdown from the status bar, who knows? all i hope is that they don’t remove it until multi window is native with Android.

        Or have you ever tried my small apps (in stable Sony Lollipop ROM)? watching video/Youtube on small window is one of the options offered by my app.

        • Syed Ibrahim

          whats your app name i would love to.

          • hansip

            Media Viewer Small App is the one. or Translate Small App, Clipboard Small App, Fast App Switcher Small App, to name a few more ;)

          • Syed Ibrahim

            I habe used them on 5.1.1 can’t use anymore on concept

          • Aadil

            Been using them. They are great.

        • Kaarthikeyan Swaminathan

          I do use ur app. And its good

    • Great Dude

      I use your apps.
      Thanks they are great and I do hope that they don’t remove them.

  • Javid Nazim Mammadov

    I hope OEMs didn’t go crazy with skins.

  • unknown13x

    Been part of this Concept test for quite a while now and it’s just for the better in most cases. Battery life has gone from really good to insanely good. Camera has gone from medium to quick. The interface is also ridicolously fast now. A great phone has become a fantastic phone. I’m on Z3 Compact

    • rexp

      Does anyone know if it still upsamples when connected via OTG to a DAC? thanks!

  • Martín Zorko

    I don’t think that Sony’s UI is slow. Actually, it’s quite fast and fluid. The only questionable feature is the Small Apps. Other than that, Sony offers a great Android experience, even if it isn’t AOSP. Great performance, inobtrusive stock apps, outstanding battery life, and consistent desgin elements all across the system.

    • Aadil

      I really like the small apps and they are useful. Eg texts app, calculator or album or video viewer.
      I think they should add an option to remove the bar for people who don’t like them

  • Vinícius Azzolin

    I really think that Nirave didn’t usy any device of sony at all, because even in the low entry models it has the fastest and powerful interface of the custom skins. It is simple, elegant and efficient. But taste is taste, and I know that you can think that it is not your favorite, but it is definitely not slow.
    And now that I read it all I really didn’t like this article, criticizing just what is good on Sony. It is not hate, just a different opinion of a long term Sony user.

    • Ivan Budiutama

      Agree, he is the first ever to say that Sony’s UI is bad. It’s not perfect device, but the UI is never be the problem. I think most reviewer even the ones here at AA, most said Sony’s UI is the better if not the best feature on the phone.

      • Armaan Modi

        sony’s UI was a lot more good looking than now but the performance was slow.I have used Xperia U and many other sony phones and always felt that the UI was a problem.

        • Aadil

          That was generations ago. Look at Sony UI now, since the Z, it’s been changed and it’s nearly stock Android

          • Armaan Modi

            well..i dont think that JellyBean in Z was anything near stock…everything was skinned..

          • Hyung-Woo Jung

            Sony changed up their skin big time in Lollipop to the point it barely has any difference from stock Android apart from a few icons and apps. Jelly Bean is a thing of the past, so it can’t be used to tell how Sony does things now. Even the Xperia Z got the Material Design treatment with Lollipop.

          • Armaan Modi

            yes,nice to see sony bringing some change.Hope they create an awesome,feature rich ROM!

          • Aadil

            JB in Z wasn’t as bad as the other Sony Phones and far less skin compared to other OEMs (Stock wasn’t the way to go back then you must remember). The Z series was a trend setter for Sony. Stock Android has become more visible now especially in Lollipop.

          • Armaan Modi

            Yes it’s more visible now…and looks unconsistent.But anyways,SONY is learning of luck to ’em!

          • Aadil

            Yeah but I wouldn’t want them to leave the features out. Sony only has a few, and most of them are very useful. They can let the interface be as stock as they want but keep the features tucked in just like Cyanogen. Now that would be great.

        • Svnjay

          Ah, you used a phone from 2012 and using it to judge a phone in 2015?

          • Armaan Modi

            Not exactly..and I like this stock like Marshmallow ROM project that they have started.

      • Aadil

        I am sure it was Joshua who said that about the Sony UI

    • Greg Hickman

      I have a Z3, and I have to say… The software is a helluva lot closer to stock than that crap on Samsung, AND it’s speedier. I don’t know what these reviewers are smoking.

    • serendipity1002

      Seriously though, i lost it at “interfaxe has been traditionally slow”. some sony’s UI design choices may be criticized as matter of personal preference, but “slow”? nah ah

    • Steve Koo

      I felt the same way as you about the inherent corporate bias of this (and some other) contributors on this website. Maybe a lot of these are former employees of sony and laid off during the firm’s restructuring in most of the past decade so they are just throwing some personal grudges, which is not a good basis for an unbiased and professional reviews. We will see and I can tell in a few years a lot of tech reviewers may be former Samsung staff.

    • wabbies

      It’s funny how Sony managed to build up such a loyal fan base! I mean, look at everyone defending them (Myself included). I love xperia Phones and I tell everyone to get one.

    • Saurabh Dhaul

      Yes i agree with you… Sony’s ui is the best and i can say that after a lot of experience …

      I was using Xperia Z before and now Moto x play…. My Z was more smooth ….Nobody can beat Sony when it come’s to Sony…. Even low end phone’s run smooth ..

    • Le Kawaii Potatoe

      I read the comments of the video, and didn’t even bother to watch it.

      • Svnjay

        Hey, it’s you from Xperia Blog :D

    • Ian

      Z5 owner here, and the UI is definately not the problem, but the optimization is. My Z5 sometimes hovers, even flies, and other times it crawls. The speed is too inconsistent for my taste. I do however agree on that the UI is gorgeous. I actually prefer it over stock android.

  • Damon Lewis

    I think to say that Sony phones are slow or loaded with a ton of bloat isn’t correct. That may be true in the past to a degree but the Z5/Lollipop is quite fast and the interface is fairly stock. It’s much more stock than almost any other manufacturer (Motorola aside).

    I look forward to future improvements but it’s still a very good experience now.

    • Saurabh Dhaul

      Lollipop on phone’s likes Xperia Z are also smooth …

  • notbugs

    I can’t wait to get this update to my Z5 Compact. I was a bit dissapointed when i got it since i did not feel that the performance was on par to what had been promised. Especially the camera app has been sluggish and sometimes takes forever to launch. The only thing that i can say works like a breeze is the finger print scanner which always locks up the phone in an instant and with very few misses.

    So i am definitely looking forward to get an update that keeps the interface smooth and fluid. Of the Sony media apps i only think the album app is something i would not want to be without. I would also keep the music app if it could access Google Play Music. Apart from the media apps i find the Smart Connect feature great since it lets me set up my connected gear just the way i like it.

    I hope the new battery saving features in Marshmallow will fix the problems with apps that keep eating battery. Even if i use Sony’s stamina mode there are apps that i still want to have active, though some of them seem to be eating battery so it is needed to fix this on the OS-level i think.

    • Syed Ibrahim

      Just to add there is no Stamina mode in concept at the moment. Without it I am getting more screen on time than i used to get with 5.1.1 stamina mode on. Doze is working good on its own.

    • Shamoy Rahman

      Just root your Z5C, get CM cleaner and disable autostart and background activity. Bam, done. Enjoy an additional 5 hours of battery life.

  • Great Dude

    Small apps are actually one of the best and most unique features of Xperia phones.
    I understand that some want everything like Nexus ,but this is something better than the Nexus and actually a smartphone with it is more advanced from the one without it. Maybe a Nexus phones should add it to increase productivity.
    I hope that they keep smallapps on their next phones and next updates because they really help and increase productivity.

    • Shamoy Rahman

      They need to update the small apps and redesign them.

      • Great Dude

        They did a little redesign but maybe a much better one with an updated options would be better.

        • Shamoy Rahman

          Yes. Now that multi window is coming in Marshmallow, they should use that bottom bar in recents to make a drag and drop multi window feature.

          • Great Dude

            Yeah that would be a good option and in case removed the small apps won’t be bad.
            Since I used to small apps ,I hope that they would keep both.

    • KappaMaster Boy

      Seriously tho, I disagree with you, small apps are not only useless, but also a waste of precious space. If you want something to increase productivity, you should go with multi-windows.

      • Great Dude

        For you it is useless but for me they are really easy to use and helpful.
        I prefer to open quickly a widget or a small app just to do something fast than have a multi-window or go and open an app.
        I would like to have multi-window in addition to small app because they would be great for using two apps at the same time especially for a little long time.
        Maybe Sony should put an option to turn it off for who don’t like it such as yourself,but they should keep it for who use it and enjoy it .
        I don’t like the idea that all Android phones should be the same looking the same as Nexus phones.

        • Aadil

          Yeah they should just add an option to remove the bar for people who don’t want them

      • Daniel Stone

        I don’t think you’ve actually used small apps. The ability to play YouTube videos in the background is the exact opposite of useless and worth the extra apps alone.

  • interstellarmind

    I actually find small apps very useful. I’d hate to see them go.

    For what itswotyh: the UI this article described doesn’t sound like my experience with the UI on the Z5.

  • FranchisePlayer

    I think the manufacturers/carriers have it backwards. They should all leave their phones with stock Android and allow for the installation of all their bloatware and custom skin/launcher as separate apps. Whenever Android is updated, then they can upgrade their bloatware/skins/launchers to work with the newest version, not the other way around.

    • Shamoy Rahman

      I think a support app is important to come preloaded. Gmail on the other hand should be the stock email app.

  • jimv1983

    I’m a long time fan of stock Android and I think this looks pretty good.

  • Padraic Keogh

    I really liked my Z3 beforehand, but this is a great update and such a step up.

  • Tomas D

    No, the new Ui is peace of sheet. Do not change it so radical. By the same token, volume controls too.

  • Tomas D

    Please, allow at least the battery indicator

  • Nexus Venturi

    I disagree. Sony ui has for a long time been far closer to stock and speedier than anything from the other major players. Only Motorola would be closer to stock.

    Also, who doesn’t like small apps? I use them constantly. Pita to have to find calculator app in launcher or unit conversions. Small apps mean they’re always quickly available.

    When I shift to non Sony phone that’s the first thing I miss, where the hell is the calculator.

    Also, what bloatware comes with Sony phones? My carrier software version only includes the carrier app, no Xperia care or other crap mentioned here.

    Why does chrome struggle with these comments field, so slow.

    • Aadil


    • Moshe Auguztyn

      Totally Agreed buddy… i love where they applied ‘small apps’ . it’s a small, but much productive

    • onstrike112

      BlackBerry’s is closer to stock. They’re a major player, get over your blindness, would you?

  • Ariel Shostak

    it looks very promising indeed would like to taste the marshmellow on my vrand new Xperia Z5 phone.
    the vid is very ionformative and the 6.0 android build looks amazing on that Z3


    Not impressed.

  • Ryan

    Hope it adds “enter pincode” functionality in powering off the device.. So that it strengthens “find my Xperia” feature..

  • aseuss

    I would like to see Sony borrow more of the aesthetics and style of the PS Vita interface in their mobile interface, such as those 3D-like floating icons. The Vita look really is unique and would help differentiate Xperia from all the other Android phones.

  • Yahya

    My z3c have a great sensor and the worst photos. I’m waiting the update hopefully it will solve the camera problems.

  • Rick James Montayre

    That new marshmallow experience you proudly present in this video is already embodied in my Sony Xperia Z Ultra Lollipop update. The Lollipop update of Z Ultra is I think the most successful overhaul Sony has done. 5.1.1 update

  • Benji

    Promising has one S, not two (title) unless it was intentional :-)

  • iia3ezu

    If only Sony would debundle its crapware from its Android.

    Socialife, Lounge, Lifelog etc.

    Allow the users to uninstall them without needing to root the phone.

  • Mohit Shelke

    watching this video…i am very happy for xperia users…i am a user of thier 1st gen devices…x8 ,lww,etc and yes their software did include useless apps back then…timescape,preloaded games, some navigation app (other than maps), and even though their current ui is closer to stock android it wasnt as fast …this new approach is way better ,faster,fluid, and having useful features, also fast updates never hurt…:D

  • Daniel Stone

    I’ve owned Z3C for a year now and just like any phone out there it has certain flaws. But the last place to look for dirt would be the speed of the UI. It’s fast, smooth and flexible.

    As for updates, Sony is definitely not a Nexus. But take an honest look at all other OEMs and find one with better track record. No one has updated more devices with such a consistency trough and trough.

    The Marshmallow concept looks promising. I hope they keep the simplicity and push the final version out soon.

  • Svnjay

    “When it comes to Android UI, OEMs take their own approach, and for Sony, its interface hasn’t seemed as polished as some of its rival OEMs. ”

    Yeah, the most stock UI isn’t polished. Go home, you’re drunk.

  • Syed Ibrahim

    New Marshmallow Concept firmware adds Xperia Theme support (MDB08M.Z1.2153)

  • browngeek

    Author, are you on something? So so many things wrong with this article. Moved over from Nexus phones to Sony and I have to say the UI is pretty clean and there is not much bloatware. Also Sony has been pretty solid and quick on updates.

  • Syed Ibrahim

    Just received another update 2153. Themes are now supported (Z5 themes included), you can take screen shot from power button again (was removed earlier), can add icon pack in xperia themes.

  • fredphoesh

    Odd review… I have never considered Sony xperia slow at all… my wife’s z3 compact is much less laggy than my Note 4.

  • Erik Arapob

    Your Brave Frontier id:xxxx???

  • tejas tharkude

    Nothing much change but hoping for good battery stabilisation

  • Brice Medina

    I installed sony concept marshmallow and I love it! My phone was fast but I have the feeling it is faster now.
    The new sony flat wallpaper is nice, but after an upgrade it disappeared my phone and the old one came back. Any idea ?

  • István Liszi

    Hi I have Z3+ and I was really satisfied with it until I got Marshmallow in it. Suprisingly you took away the possibility of tethering and prtable hotspot without prior notice. Since I used this feature to my work daily, now I have a big problem. As a travelling manager, I used my mobile net with my notebook for internet access, now that is gone. If there will be no solution ( e.g. a repaired software) soon I am afraid to buy an other phone with A 5.x and forget 6.x for good. Not to mention the fact that I gave notices for all of my friends to avoid Marshmallow!!!

  • QueDato

    Maybe Sony UI on Lollipop/Marshmallow is not so good, but come on! The Sony UI is the best and most beautiful and faster ever (since android 2.0).
    I never got lag with my Sony devices (X8, C, and Z3 Compact). Different from my LG devices (Optimus Black, G2 Mini) that have lag and a uggly UI, and my Samsung devices (Galaxy 5, and Win), that have a uggly UI. Nothing to say about Motorola (only haved Atrix 4G).