Currently the Xperia X8 runs the 2.1 version of Android, which is two iterations behind the latest available version. You still get all the really core functionality though so shouldn’t be left wanting for too much. A number of the standard apps have been modified anyway to better fit the cramped screen.
Contacts are displayed in a long list – with five names fitting onscreen at any one time – which can be a bit of a pain to scroll through given this version of Android’s slightly stuttery scrolling. Social networking integration is supported, via Sony Ericsson’s Timescape app but the profile pictures aren’t shown on the main contact list. Click through to a contact, however, and you can see the person’s latest picture along with the rest of their info – bizarrely, the favourites page only shows pictures with picture-less contacts shown as silhouettes. Tap the Facebook icon for a contact and you can go through to their profile, or tap the Timescape (infinity) icon and their Timescape profile is shown.
Timescape is Sony Ericsson’s social networking app that brings together Facebook and Twitter feeds into one stream of information. You can add a Timescape widget to the homescreen and just flick through the timeline at your leisure. Tap an update and you’ll be taken to the full app so you can reply. It’s quite a nice simple addition that makes keeping up with your social networks that little bit easier but the silly virtual card interface of the main timelines could do with simplifying.
Meanwhile, the dialler, which is limited to just the dialler and recent calls list, works fine but doesn’t have intelligent contact matching so you always have to type out the whole number.
Standard apps for Facebook and Twitter don’t come installed but you can download them from the market place and they work surprisingly well on the smallish screen. Indeed, most normal MarketPlace apps should work fine on this device, assuming they’re not too demanding of the CPU speed.
SMS messages are well handled by a simple interface that keeps messages arranged by contact for easily keeping track of conversations. However, email doesn’t hold up quite so well. There’s no option but to have it try and squash whatever email you’re viewing into a narrow column, which makes HTML emails go all over the place. And with no option to zoom in and out, you’re stuck scrolling around trying to find where its randomly decided to put the various graphical elements. This is a shame, as it’s otherwise a reasonably nice to use interface.