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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Ice Cream Sandwich beta out now

Sony's released a beta version of Ice Cream Sandwich for the Xperia Play, the phone with physical gaming controls.

Sony's released a beta version of Ice Cream Sandwich for the Xperia Play, allowing eager-beaver Android fans to get a scoop of Android 4.0 ahead of the official release.

Sony's posted information on the beta and how to install it on its developer site, but there's a warning -- as with the recent Ice Cream Sandwich beta release for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, Ray and Neo V, Sony recommends you leave this beta well alone unless you're a seasoned developer.

"This is not final software, and the stability of the software may not be ideal as it has not been finally tested and bugfixed," Sony warns. You'll need your phone's bootloader to be unlocked as well, something Sony points out could void your warranty.

It looks as though Sony is trying to make sure the Xperia Play's unusual slide-out gaming buttons play nicely with the new version of Android. It writes, "We do know that some games will need to be optimised to work fine with ICS."

There's a survey you can fill out if you've taken the plunge and installed the new software. I'm glad to see Sony's apparently taking some care with the update -- my time with the Play was mired by dodgy software, with a confusing interface and a distinct lack of games making the much-hyped 'PlayStation Phone' hard to love.

It might be too late for the Play to improve significantly, but I'm keen to see whether Ice Cream Sandwich can make this phone a bit better.

Sony's vowed to get all Xperia phones that came out since 2011 onto Ice Cream Sandwich, with the Play's proper update expected to arrive around the end of April or early May. I'd strongly recommend waiting for the official update rather than installing this beta -- it's only a few weeks to wait, after all.

If you're keen to see what Ice Cream Sandwich on the Play will look like, I've embedded a preview video from Sony below. Underneath that is our video review of the Play.

Do you own the Xperia Play? What do you think of it? And how could it be improved? Let me know your impressions in the comments or on our Facebook wall.