Tuesday, 13 October 2015

PS4 System Software 3.0: What's new and what's still missing

With the recent system software 3.0 update on the Playstation 4, it got me thinking about what's still missing from the PS4 and its features.  Coming up on its two year anniversary in North America, there are a number of features that Playstation users would love to see on their PS4, but they just don't seem to be coming.  Before we take a look at those, let's dive in to what's new in the 3.0 update.

What's new:

Playstation Plus icon
When you first log on to your system after the software update, one of the first things you'll notice on the home screen may be the shiny Playstation Plus icon on the far left of the top row.  From here, you can see all of your Plus content, as well as see the current free games line up, deals and sales, and manage your Plus membership.

Events icon
Another new icon that might catch your eye is the Events icon.  While I don't believe it necessarily deserves a spot front and centre on the top row, or even on the home screen at all, this new icon gives you the option to check out official game broadcasts and streams, and to see the activities and events that are going on in the games that you play the most.

Upload game clips directly to Twitter
When the PS4 first launched in 2013, users could only natively upload their game clips to Facebook.  With the 2.0 software update, to users satisfaction, they were given the ability to upload their clips to YouTube. Now, for those of you who want to share slices of your content online, you can now do so by uploading videos (up to 10 seconds in length) to Twitter.  It's as simple as using the Share button on the Dualshock 4 controller.

Stream via YouTube
Since its launch, the PS4 has only allowed users to natively stream their gameplay to either Twitch or Ustream.  That's now changed.  With the 3.0 update, users can now stream their gameplay directly to YouTube.

Other updates
The smaller and arguably less exciting updates that accompany the 3.0 update include: the ability to take screenshots in .PNG format (rather than .JPEG format); changes (the good kind of changes) to messages; creating "Communities," where users share content with designated groups of other players; and "Stickers"because who doesn't like sending friends random images of their favourite Playstation characters every once in a while.

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While this is a great deal of added capability and features, and it's sure to make a lot of users happy, what would a console software update be without complaining about what the console is still missing?  Let's take a look at the features that the PS4 is still missing, and that users can't wait to have.


What's still missing:

Friend notifications
Almost every time I log onto my PS4, my first stop is to my friends list.  I see who's online and what they're playing.  There's just something about seeing your friends online and knowing what they're up to (even if it is just watching Netflix).  What I'm getting at is that my friends list plays a big role in my time spent on my PS4.  So, you may not be surprised when I say that I'm dismayed at the lack of addition of friend notificationsspecifically, notifications for when my friends go on and offline.

On the Playstation 3, as you may remember, users would receive notifications in the corner of their screen, similar to the PS4's notifications, when friends sent them messages or invites, and, my favourite, when they logged on or offline (no, I'm not being sarcastic).  Since the PS4's launch, the latter notification has been absent.  Why?  Who knows.  What I do know is that each time I see this feature missing from a software update, I die a little inside.

In all seriousness, why, since its launch, has the PS4 been capable of letting me know when a friend has joined a party and that I can join it, too, but not when they've logged on or offline?  And yes, I know, I know, many Playstation users have no longing for this feature.  In fact, a huge number of them would probably turn the feature right off like they have for the "joined party" notification.  But for the few, like myself, who don't have a full friends list, and rather, have under 20 friends on our lists, seeing when my friends come online and go offline would be a more than welcome addition to the notifications on our PS4s.

It may be an engineering and coding problem that is preventing this from being a feature on the PS4 (which is odd, considering the PS3 has had this option for as long as I can remember), but I would love to see this feature added come the next software update.  And hopefully, if it does come, there's the ability to toggle notifications on/off.  That way, everyone's happy.  Well, not everyone.  After all, it is the Internet.

Create folders on the home screen
I'll be the first to admit that I'm, at times, a little too organized and like things a little too neat.  But clearly, I'm not alonenot when it comes to the PS4's home screen, anyways.

Right now, the bottom row on the PS4 home screenthe one with all of your applicationsis a bit of a mess.  Currently, the applications and games you've used and played most recently are on the far left, pushing unplayed games and ignored applications to the wayside, all the way to the right until it disappears to the Library section, which is a mess all on its own.

Inside the Library, you've got all of the games and applications you've ever purchased, even if you haven't downloaded them.  Sure, it can be nice to see everything like that in one place, but with all of the free PS Plus games I've "purchased" but not downloaded, the folder is bursting at its digital seams.  While this folder is an issue, it's not the kind of folder I'm referring to when I say I want to be able to create folders on the PS4's home screen.

People can say what they will about the PS3's XMB, but at least it was categorized well.  My favourite was the fact that all [digital] games were placed neatly into one folder.  Though this wasn't a choice, it's something I appreciated, because it at least condensed things, even if just a little bit.

If you look at the Playstation Vita, albeit arguably on its way out, there's the ability to make custom folders, dragging and dropping games and applications as you please.  While I understand its a mobile device of sorts, you'd think something could similarly be done on the PS4, being a part of the same ecosystem and all.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to create custom folders, placing games and applications where I want them.  It's evident that this is somewhat possible, considering we already have this type of thing with the video services "folder."  At the very least, what I'd like to see done on the PS4 is have all games placed in a folder of sorts so that I'm not scrolling sideways through a mile of games, and maybe have the ability to choose the sorting option (>Last played, or >A-Z).  Somethinganythingto clean those games up!

Changing PSN name
For some, changing their PSN name is as easy as creating a new account and starting from scratch.  For others, however, this option means abandoning their Playstation trophy collection, which they, understandably, have no desire or intention of doing.  While I'm fine with my PSN name and have no desire to change it, anyone who visits Playstation forums or listens to Playstation centric podcasts knows that there are hundreds and thousands of Playstation users that are aching to change theirs, even willing to shell out the dough to do so.  This has never been, and still is not an option.

While likely an engineering and software feat, Sony has failed to address, or at least provide updates on where they're at on this longtime request, despite the money that is being left on the table.  All I know is that changing one's PSN name is at the top of a lot of peoples' lists, and it looks like they're going to have to wait just that much longer before they'll see this feature implemented onto the PS4.

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Many, if not most of the features that I've listed as still missing are likely due to engineering constraints, or perhaps are simply viewed as less important when compared to the other features that we've seen added in this current update, as well as previous software updates.  What can be said for sure is that they have not been included in the most recent software update.  I can almost say with certainty that Sony will eventually bring these features to the PS4, perhaps announcing them at Playstation Experience (PSX) 2015 on December 5th and 6th.  For now, though, we can enjoy the features that they have brought, and keep hoping that we'll see the updates that we want to see most come with the next big software updateideally sooner than later, Sony.


Source: Playstation Blog

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