Following the launch of the Sony PlayStation 4 last month the Japanese firm has now announced a companion app for smartphones and tablets to enhance second-screen viewing.
A key feature of the PlayStation 4 is the streaming of games across a network of devices and to enable this, Sony has released the PlayStation app to provide a second screen, in a similar way to Nintendos Wii U GamePad. A device that can be used for anything from displaying areas of a game you’re in, or simply act as a portable screen to allow gaming on the move, something that Sony is keen to emulate.
The launch of the app signals a new approach from Sony as the firm looks to move the PlayStation experience to a socially focused affair.
With industry experts predicting that future games consoles will be produced with second-screening in mind, the app means that Android and iOS users will have instant access to a wealth of new features on the PlayStation 4, while on the move.
Once installed, the app enables users to purchase games away from the console and have it fully downloaded and ready to play at home, see maps on a second screen when playing an adventure game, and remotely watch other gamers’ endeavours in multiplayer games.
Having supplementary information displayed on a smartphone or tablet brings a new dimension to gaming and means users can do things like search for new game titles and talk to fellow players without interrupting gameplay. The PlayStation 4 will also allow users to open up and start playing a new title before it has even finished downloading.
During the launch of the PlayStation 4 Sony boasted that the console will feature integration with third party services, phones and tablets to encourage players on mobile devices to make the most of head-to-head challenges within games.
Last year Sony bought cloud gaming firm Gaikai for $380m in order to help the PlayStation reach a wider audience; particularly users of mobile devices. Dave Perry, Gaikai CEO, said he wants gamers to have “free exploration of any game instantly” wherever they are.
The concept of the app is very similar to Microsoft’s SmartGlass application, which transforms your mobile device into a controller that can be used to select which content is displayed, input text, navigate across the user interface and even activate gesture commands on your home console.
Unfortunately, there is no remote play option for the PlayStation app but Sony has confirmed it will also be bringing additional updates to its portable PlayStation Vita. As revealed during the launch of PlayStation 4, the updates will allow Vita to remotely play console games, with the use of Gaikai technology.
These ambitious plans are Sony’s attempt to extend functionality and the connected gaming experience beyond the PlayStation Vita, and its new console and app mark a great improvement over the company’s current official PlayStation app, which does little more than allow you to view trophies and the status of your PlayStation friends.
An actual physical device was not showcased during Sony’s event but the PlayStation 4 is said to feature an eight-core X86 processor, 8GB of RAM, a DualShock four controller (which features a touchpad for navigating onscreen menus), and a built in 3D stereo camera which detects player movement. There’s also said to be ‘new social layers’ for a better, more interactive gaming experience, although what exact form these will take wasn’t revealed.
The console and its companion app are both expected to launch later this year, and if rumours are anything to go by it will hit the market before Microsoft has chance to release its next-generation Xbox, an approach which may well give Sony an advantage over its competitor.
But, competition in the gaming market is stronger than ever, particularly as more users opt for mobile gaming over consoles. Leading mobile app data firm App Annie recently revealed that during the fourth quarter of 2012 revenue generated by mobile apps topped the profit margins of the likes of Sony and Nintendo.
That said, the gaming niche is bigger than ever and because smartphones don’t pack in anywhere near the amount of power seen in games consoles, the experience will never be as immersive. Despite these latest figures Sony is still one of the front-runners when it comes to gaming innovations and the PlayStation 4 signals that the firm has no intention of giving up on the ‘traditional‘ gaming market any time soon.
Written by Sarah Hazelwood of Dialaphone, the go to place to buy mobile phones from all the top manufacturers including Sony, Nokia, Samsung and Apple.