Sony‘s first public system update for the PlayStation 4 — listen up, tent-campers-to-be! — will pack a host of goodies, including several essential features you’ll need to use the system online.
Dubbed version 1.50, Sony says it’ll be available at system launch in North America on November 15. They’re not specifying what time, but I’d imagine by or before midnight ET Thursday night/Friday morning to avoid angering a bunch of cold — and if you live somewhere it snows and it’s dumping that big, wet kind of snow, bedraggled — gamers who’ve spent most of the day and half the night standing in lines.
It’s not clear from Sony’s press release whether the update adds or merely enables the following features, or whether Sony’s just enumerating the things you’ll be able to do from day one, but we’re talking about a hefty 300MB patch here, meaning some or all of these could be part of the payload:
- Remote Play
Users will be able to access PS4 titles displayed on their living room TVs and play them on a PS Vita system over Wi-Fi networks by using PS4 Link. SCE anticipates that most PS4 titles will be playable on the PS Vita system through Remote Play.
- Second Screen
Users can use the PS4 Link application for the PS Vita system, and PlayStation App for iPhone, iPad, and Android based smartphones and tablets, to use these devices as second screens in supported titles. PlayStation App has the ability to enable users to interact with games with their mobiles devices. For example on THE PLAYROOM, a title pre-installed in all PS4 systems that requires PlayStation Camera, users can draw pictures on their mobile device screens and flick them towards the TV. The images then appear as a 3D object within the game.
- Record, take screen shots, and upload gameplay effortlessly
The PS4 system provides dedicated, “always on” video encoding systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. Users can share their epic triumphs by simply hitting the “SHARE button” on PS4 Wireless Controller (DUALSHOCK 4), take screenshots or scan through the last 15 minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game—the video uploads as the user plays. At the PS4 system’s launch in North America, users will be able to share their images and videos with friends on Facebook and screenshots with followers on Twitter.
- Broadcast and spectate gameplay
The PS4 system also enhances social spectating by enabling users to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to game fans around the globe, using Ustream and Twitch live internet streaming services. SCE provides two ways for users to view live broadcasts. First, the Live from PlayStation application on PS4 aggregates streams from all PlayStation users. Second, users can spectate friends’ PS4 gameplay from PCs, and applications such as Ustream, Twitch, and browsers, which are installed on their mobile devices. These applications can be easily started up via PlayStation App, and users can also use these applications to post comments to gameplay broadcasts. Furthermore, users with PlayStation Camera can stream camera images and microphone sounds along with their live gameplay broadcast.
- Play as you download
This feature enables users to play supported digital titles as they are being downloaded. When a game is purchased, users can start playing after PS4 downloads a portion of the data, while the rest of the game is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay. Games may be downloaded in stand-by mode.
- Multi log-in
A maximum of 4 users can log-in to a single PS4 system simultaneously. These players can use their own save data to play games, and also earn trophies on their own Sony Entertainment Network accounts even when playing a multi-player game together on a single PS4 system.
- Party (Voice chat)
By using the Mono Headset bundled with the PS4 system, users will be able to chat with up to eight friends enjoying different applications or games. Furthermore, users can use Party to chat between PS4 and PS Vita systems.
- Face recognition and voice commandsUsers with PlayStation Camera will be able to register their facial image onto their PS4 system, and login to their system using facial recognition instead of DUALSHOCK 4. Furthermore, users can use either the microphone of the Mono Head set connected to DUALSHOCK 4, or PlayStation Camera to navigate through the PS4 home screen (PlayStation Dynamic Menu) with voice commands to start up games and shutdown the system, among other features.
- Background music player
Users can enjoy gameplay while listening to music in the background with Music Unlimited, a cloud-based digital music service. Users can also voice chat with friends while listening to music.
- Online Multiplayer
PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) members will be able to play PS4 titles online with other players via the network. PS Plus makes it easy for members to join available online multiplayer matches in a variety of ways, including the ability to easily join a game from a live stream broadcast or Party voice chats.
- Blu-ray Disc and DVD player
Users can enjoy not only gaming on their PS4 system, but also Blu-ray and DVD video contents. [Sony adds that “At first time use, users must connect to the internet to activate this feature.”]
Why wait to add that stuff until day zero? Assuming I’ve got that right — that you get none of this without the update — maybe to regulate what critics can do with review units? To keep a tighter grip on network security until launch? To give the software engineering team extra bake time?
Sony notes that a few features won’t be available at launch, specifying one of them: “suspend/resume mode,” designed to let you drop the PS4 into low power mode, then hop back into your (suspended) game.