Having promised that all Xperia smartphones released in 2011 would get the Ice Cream Sandwich update this spring, Sony has released an Android 4.0 preview beta ROM for the Xperia Arc S, the Xperia Neo V, and the Xperia Ray.

The update follows the release of an alpha ROM that was issued for the same devices back in December, and it introduces a number of new features and improvements. Most importantly, having passed some certifications, the ROM now offers a working GSM modem and an FM radio.

There are also a number of changes to the user interface, but Sony says that it is working to maintain some of the elements that users already love, while adding little bits of Ice Cream Sandwich to the mix. In a post on its Developer World blog, Sony provides a complete list of changes:

  • Updated UI – We hope you will be happy to see that we have added a number of UI elements from ICS, as well as some new UI features already introduced in the Xperia™ S we announced in January.
  • Lockscreen and Face Unlock – We have added a shortcut to the camera directly from the lockscreen. Also, when you're listening to music you can control the music player without unlocking the phone by using the music control icons on the lockscreen. In the coming final ICS upgrade, we will also include the face unlock app from Google for all phones that has a front-facing camera.
  • Connectivity turned on – Since we published the ICS alpha ROM, the GSM modem and FM radio have passed the certification and type approval, and they are therefore turned on in this ICS beta release.
  • Updated email client – The UI has been updated, and simplified email management has been added.
  • Quick dial – We have added a quick and easy way for you to make phone calls. See how it works in the ISC beta ROM demo video.

Those look like great improvements, but the release still isn't suitable for installing on your daily driver. It doesn't support Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections, which are still waiting for approval, and these are two features you certainly don't want to lose from your main device.

Sony recommends that only "advanced developers with extensive knowledge in how to install, and switch between different ROMs" install the preview release.

If you're itching to find out what Ice Cream Sandwich is like on these devices, check out Sony's demonstration video above.

Are you looking forward to Ice Cream Sandwich on your Sony Ericsson Xperia handset?

[via The Verge]