Both Microsoft and Sony have announced big updates for their current-gen platforms this month. The PlayStation 4 v2 update will land an innovative online/local multiplayer hybrid feature on the system, while the Xbox One is set to receive remote purchase functionality, improved social features and a big tweak to its Blu-ray player.
Microsoft’s latest update has already started rolling out globally, and brings some significant changes with it. Most of the features below will be included in the update, while a few others, such as the media player, won’t land until a little later this year.
First up is the ability to remotely purchase games using either the SmartGlass app on smartphones and tablets, or through the company’s website. Users will be able to start downloading a title remotely, so long as their system is set up for automatic updates. Considering the large size of some current-gen games, the ability to start downloading a new title before you get home from work is a nice addition to the console.
The second big change comes to the system’s activity feed feature. Microsoft has overhauled the feed to add a lot of features you’d usually associate with a social network, such as the ability to post text and game clips, and “like” or comment on friend’s posts. Each user gets his or her own feed and will receive notifications when other users interact with it.
The console will receive a new media player that lets users play files from a USB device (media server streaming will be added later), and users will be able to stream TV to the SmartGlass app – playing, pausing, rewinding and changing channels with interrupting gameplay.
One welcome addition for Xbox owners with 3D TVs is the ability to play 3D Blu-rays – something that Sony added to the PS4 earlier this year. Lastly, Microsoft has added a pop-up notification to show when a controller's battery is running low, as well as the ability to disable notifications entirely when watching a video.
Sony’s update is set to land sometime this Autumn (Northern Hemisphere), and the company has teased one big feature to look forward to.
Sharing content is a big part of the ethos of Sony’s latest console, emphasised by the inclusion of “Share” button on the controller itself. The company plans to take this to the next level with the new update, introducing a new Share Play feature.
Sony describes the new feature as being like a "virtual couch," and that’s actually a fairly accurate description. Share Play is a sort of online/local co-op hybrid that lets friends join each other’s games without requiring them to own a copy. Games that support the feature will essentially share their local multiplayer features with a friend, letting them jump in just like they’re on the couch beside you.
Players will even be able to jump in and take control of a single player game if you’re having trouble getting past a particular section. It sounds like a great feature, and it’ll be interesting to see how many titles support it.