Sony is now the second Android OEM to go on the record that it's going to update an entire lineup of devices from 2013 and 2014 to Android 5.0; this, after Motorola announced it's going to update all of its devices from the past two years to Lollipop, as well.
Unlike Motorola, though, Sony will only update the devices from its Xperia Z series. This includes mainly high-end smartphones and phablets. Even so, Android 5.0 is a major update, in fact Google's "most ambitious release" of Android, so it's good to see Sony wanting to upgrade so many of its devices to it. Also, to be fair, Motorola has far fewer models it needs to worry about right now, compared to Sony.
The full lineup of Xperia Z devices that will get the Lollipop upgrade are:
Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1S, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3 Compact and Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.
The Google Play Edition of Xperia Z Ultra will be the first to get the upgrade in the coming weeks, while the Xperia Z3 and Z2 series will be the first to receive it early next year. The Lollipop update will come to the others in the following months.
Sony has already begun working on creating a unified kernel for AOSP KitKat for some of its devices, and the new Android L kernel (version 3.10) should make it even easier to build "master ROMs" in the future for a wide range of devices, even on different chip platforms, thanks to a new feature called "device tree." That leads us to believe that this type of mass update isn't just an exception, but the beginning of a trend that could catch-on with other OEMs, too.
"Device Tree helps to consolidate code for boards within one SoC family and allows you to boot on future ones without kernel changes. Multi-platform helps to consolidate across SoC families. Moving platform code out into drivers supports the other two and allows to consolidate code across CPU architectures."– Linaro.
One of Android's main weaknesses is that manufacturers create so many different models and SKUs, and then they forget about most of them because it takes too much money and time to try and update them all multiple times a year. With Google starting to release only one major version per year, and with this new device tree feature, OEMs should be able to support a bigger range of devices for two full years (or two major releases). Motorola and Sony are leading the pack right now, but, hopefully, others will follow soon.