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Sony offers up Android M developer preview for a dozen phones

Sony is the first hardware maker to offer the next-gen Android build to a non-Nexus model.

A developer preview version of Android M is now available for select Sony devices. James Martin/CNET

Sony kicked off the week by announcing a developer preview version of Android M for its Xperia devices. Designed to help developers prepare apps and games for the next generation of Android, it's also a taste of things to come later this year.

With this move Sony beats Samsung, HTC and other players to the punch. Even Motorola, which is typically quick to release Android updates, hasn't made any noise on this front. Indeed, these are the first non-Nexus models to get the treatment.

It's possible, of course, that most phone makers simply don't want to bother with a developer preview release. Given there are other Android M builds expected before the final consumer-ready version it may not be worth the hassle to try to keep up with Google and its Nexus devices.

If anything, this announcement is a good indicator as to which models Sony plans to support with the next official release of Android. And, based on the list, it appears Sony may support a few generations' worth of devices.

There are one dozen phones and tablets able to take advantage of the Android M build: Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact , Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact , Xperia Z2 , Xperia Z2 Tablet , Xperia Z1 , Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z Ultra , Xperia E3 , Xperia M2 , Xperia T2 Ultra, and Xperia T3 .

Android M is expected to pick up a formal name later this fall; potential candidates include Marmalade, Muffin and Marshmallow. Aside from the developer-centric details, average users can look for features such as Google Now on Tap, USB Type-C support and Android Pay.

If you're a developer looking to test apps and the latest from Google, head to Sony's website for documentation and files. As for Sony phone and tablet owners, sit back and relax a few months until Android M is ready to come out of the oven.