One year into the PS4 and Xbox One war, Sony has been lagging far behind Microsoft in bringing new software updates to its console. But it's finally delivering a big one tomorrow: version 2.0 of the PlayStation 4 firmware is coming, and with it we'll see the introduction of some major new features.
Chief among them is game sharing, or Share Play as Sony calls it. This lets you invite friends to remotely watch and hop into your games — even if they haven't purchased or downloaded a copy of the game you're playing. PlayStation Plus may be required depending on how you plan to use Share Play. If a friend merely wants to spectate, Sony's subscription service isn't required on either end. But to hand off control of a game, the host will need to be a paying subscriber. And if a friend joins as a second player for multiplayer action, both people will need a Plus membership. There's also a time limit on everything: friends can join your game for a maximum of one hour at a time. Sony's ultimately still in the business of selling these games, after all.
Beyond Share Play, PS4 system software 2.0 also adds YouTube as a sharing destination for your saved gameplay highlights. Even better, a dedicated YouTube app is finally coming to the PlayStation Store tomorrow. Sony's also adding custom themes to give your home screen a more personalized feel — but right now it's limited to different colors and premium themes, with no way to use your own photos as the PS4's wallpaper.
There's a USB Music Player app now; just like the name implies, you'll be able to play music from any compatible USB storage device and keep listening as you progress through games. There's no video support whatsoever, so PS4 is still pretty far behind Xbox One when it comes to doubling as a media player. (Fans would argue that Sony remains focused on games first, a strategy that's been successful thus far.) Aside from these changes, Sony is also promising some much needed improvements to sorting / organization on the home screen and enhancements to live gameplay broadcasting. It's all rolling out tomorrow, with additional software updates for Vita, Vita TV, and the PlayStation app on Android and iOS due over the next day, too.