The Sony Xperia Z2 is the company's first smartphone to come with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. The software package looks very much the same whatever the Android version though and that's why everything feels and seems so familiar compared to the Z1. Sony has managed to sneak a few improvements along the way, but nothing major.
There goes our usual demo video to get you started.
The lockscreen is the usual affair - it supports widgets (one per pane), plus there is a shortcut to the camera at the bottom courtesy of Android KitKat. There are a few available default widgets, but you can always get more from the Play Store.
Naturally, you can protect your lockscreen by Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.
The Xperia Z2 lets you add or remove homescreen panes (you start with five) and set any of them as default. You can't have more than seven panes at any given time though, nor can you change the order they're in.
Adding stuff on the homescreen is easy, as it is the customization. You can set various live and static wallpapers, add widgets and shortcut, or change the UI theme.
The notification area loses the quick toggles, but don't you worry, they've been just moved on a separate tab. You can gain quick access to the Quick Settings tab with a two-finger swipe from the top. The toggles are customizable and you can choose between 20+ different toggles and have up to 12 of them visible in their dedicated page.
The app drawer is laid out across multiple pages and you can sort the apps manually, alphabetically, by the most used or most recently installed. The menu with those settings is accessible via a swipe from the left edge of the screen and you can also search and even uninstall apps from there.
The Xperia Z2 uses the stock Android task manager that lets you switch between recently opened apps, as well as terminate them with a side-swipe.
The so-called "small apps" are also available in the Xperia Z2 and are accessible via the task manager. They are similar to Samsung's Mini Apps, and pop up tiny widget-like applications on your homescreen, which you can move around and use without having to open the full-fledged app. So far, there's a default set of nine: Active Clip, Chrome Bookmarks, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Gmail, Timer, Notes, and Touch Lock. You can launch only one instance of a Small App, but you can open multiple Small Apps simultaneously.
You can download more Small Apps off the Play Store or use the option to turn your favorite widgets into Small Apps. Just hit the Plus key at the top of the list and choose a widget.
Naturally, you can access Google Now by swiping from the bottom of the UI. We noticed a new shortcut right next to the Google Now launch key called What's new. This app has very beautiful UI and will show you the hottest apps and multimedia today, but it isn't limited to the Play Store only. It'll display content from Sony's PlayStation store too.
Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.
It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice input as well. It also has a dedicated homescreen/lockscreen widget.
You bet the user interface is buttery smooth, there is no lag and everything happens lightning-fast. The Sony launcher is lightweight and, combined with the snappy chipset and the fastest available Android OS, you'll get an amazing UI experience.