Yesterday saw the launch of the Sony Playstation 4's System Software 2.0 patch. Unfortunately not everything went as smoothly as planned. We'll get to that in a moment.
The most talked about addition in 2.0 is probably Share Play. This system lets you share your games with friends via streaming. You can 'pass the controller' to a friend and let them play any game on your PS4, or you can invite them to play a multiplayer game with you even if they don't own it.
There are conditions, of course. You have to be a Playstation Plus member to host a session and for multiplayer, your friend needs to be one as well. Sessions only last an hour, the maximum resolution for the recipient is 720P and there's some kind of limit on FPS that Sony is being vague about. Still it is, in theory, a neat way to let a friend try out a game.
In practice, it'll be interesting to see how many Playstation 4 owners have the bandwidth to offer this service to friends. I'm pretty sure I don't with my 30 Mbps down but only 5 Mbps up Internet connection. We'll see how this all shakes out over the next few days.
The next big feature is YouTube integration. After pairing your Playstation account with a YouTube account you can share video clips directly to YouTube. Additionally the PS4 finally gets a YouTube app (you can download it from the store).
Sony has made some changes to Live With Playstation, its streaming app, but the PS4 still doesn't have a proper Twitch client. You're still limited to watching streams of PS4 games from Twitch or Ustream. This is a dumb limitation and Sony needs to address it somehow; the Xbox One has a pretty nice Twitch client.
You can now play your own music, but only if you put it on a USB device and plug it into the PS4. It's a step in the right direction, but a small one. Please give us the ability to stream our music from other devices on our network. Oh yeah and maybe video too?
The home screen of the PS4 now only shows 15 items; the rest are tucked away in the Library section. This is another step in the right direction but we need more. Let us "Pin" favorite games/apps so they don't get pushed off the top 15, and please let us hide/delete things we'll never use again, like the Destiny Beta that is still in my Library, or the WWE Network app that I will never, ever use.
They've also added Theme support for the PS4 dashboard and they're offering a few freebies in the store. If you don't want a full-fledged theme you can change the color of the standard background. You can't make your own themes, which would be nice, but it is fun to show your Destiny or COD pride by using a theme based on those games.
In addition to the Playstation 4, the Playstation TV & Vita got an update too. You can now choose image quality when using Remote Play to connect to a PS4; if you're trying to connect from a coffee shop you can opt for a lower image quality in the hopes of keeping the connection stable.
An undocumented (as far as I can tell) tweak to the Playstation TV is that when you use remote play and open the virtual keyboard you now get the same keyboard that you get on the PS4. Prior to this change you'd get a modified keyboard that works with the Vita (remember the Vita doesn't have L2 and R2 buttons, Playstation TV does). This is a minor tweak but one I really appreciate.
So I'm glad the new software rolled out, but it was a rough patch day.
The Playstation Network was unavailable to many users for a good part of the day, and some unlucky individuals ran into issues with their PS4s getting stuck in "Rest Mode" (for some reason Sony renamed "Standby Mode" to "Rest Mode"). The solution seemed to be to boot into Recovery Mode (turn the PS4 all the way off, and then hold down the start button for 7-10 seconds until you hear a beep, and you'll start in Recovery Mode) and rebuild the database; some users reported having to do that several times. Anecdotally it seems like the issue went away when PSN came back online (my info is coming mostly from GameFaqs so take it with a grain of salt).
Many users (including myself) have also had a heck of a time trying to connect our PSN accounts to our YouTube (Google) account. This is particularly annoying for those of us with 2-step authentication on our Google accounts because we have to have an authorization code texted to us for every attempt. I had mine linked early in the day but by the evening it had inexplicably become unlinked and I had no luck getting things connected again.
I did manage, while the accounts were linked, to get a short video clip uploaded to YouTube just to test the quality, which I thought was pretty good. I'll embed it below, and feel free to laugh at my lack of driving skills; I chose this clip for its ridiculousness. (It defaults to playing at 360P here; be sure to switch it to 720P to get an accurate idea of the quality.) Anyway the point is I'm looking forward to being able to share clips more easily once Google and PSN are doing a better job of talking to each other.
There're some welcome changes in this patch but I hope we don't have to go months before the next one comes along. I wish Sony would take a page from Microsoft's playbook and start doing monthly patches; the PS4 still has a lot of rough spots that could use improvement.