Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 preview: Getting closer
Mediascape and Timescape
Timescape and Mediascape are the two new interfaces (read: applications) developed by Sony Ericsson specifically for XPERIA X10. They provide a novel and interactive way of accessing and managing your communications (including social networking) and your multimedia content.
However - these two most interesting parts of the XPERIA X10 UI are also the least finished. That's the reason why we're also not publishing any video demos at this stage. The software is still not ready for prime time and Sony Ericsson are hard at work in polishing it.
Accessing all your media
So first off, let's answer what is Mediascape. Well, we can simply call it a fancy file browser and media player. But we would be oversimplifying things.
Granted, the Mediascape UI contains three different categories - Music, Video and Photo. Sure enough the Music and Photo tabs are very similar - they show in a small thumbnail rows your recently added, recently viewed/played files and your favorites among those.
The magic however is on the second part of the screen, which is dedicated to online content - if you link your X10 to a Facebook/Picasa/Flicker account or some online music service, you will see your content in the same way as those into the phone.
We also mentioned there's a Video tab, remember? Well, there is no online content here but you get all your videos in a plain and easy to use thumbnail view. Unfortunately, DivX and XviD videos are not supported and those clips don't even get listed here.
All the three tabs feature a More button, which will lead you to the full power of the galleries. Choosing more into the Music tab will open the full lists typical for a music player – recently added, played, favorites, albums, tracks, genres, etc.
The music and video player have pretty much identical interfaces with some plain straightforward buttons. At this stage there is no equalizer for the music player.
The gallery has all the regular controls and it works nice and fluidly. You can upload images to social networking services directly from here. Zooming is also fast. As we mentioned before, there is no multi-touch, so you will count on the dedicated virtual buttons.
If you click on the Infinite button in the music player (and interestingly the image gallery), you will get a streamlined view of a Google search results based on the context info like the current album artist. The search results are sorted by their type - such as YouTube videos, images, popular e-shops, etc.
Finally, you can set the Mediascape as your default homescreen, which will be shown when you hit the Home key.
And a place to gather all those close to you
Just like Mediascape, Timescape is a separate application but it's job is to bring all your communications together. It always displays an aggregated view of your SMS, MMS, email, missed calls, Facebook updates and Twitter updates all on one screen. It also has a large number of tabs that can filter the content by type.
Similar to the Mediscape, the Timescape can be set for your default homescreen too.
To sum up - Mediascape is your player, Timescape is your communicator.
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 is far from official release but it's clear it's full of potential. It has among the currently fastest ticking hardware platform. The 4-inch screen is as big as you can fit on a mobile phone without hampering usability. So yes, the XPERIA X10 is one great package that will take on the competition with no hesitation.
Choosing Android is smart move by Sony Ericsson, since the OS is still new and developing, with free open-source code and a growing App Market. And most importantly, it's not plagued by the Windows Mobile or Symbian legacy.
The Timescape and Mediascape interfaces allow for a completely new user experience on the Android platform. HTC Sense UI will definitely get a run for its money..
Unfortunately, there are at least two and a half months to go before Sony Ericsson release the XPERIA X10 and they still have a lot of work to do and a lot of edges to polish. Chances are we'll be getting a real treat in February 2010.