Ever since launch Microsoft has done a really good job of constantly improving the Xbox One operating system via monthly updates (though they did take a month off for the holidays). The latest update should be on your Xbox One by the time you read this; it brings some needed features like the ability to report spammers, and some fun-to-have features like the ability to take screenshots and set the transparency of the dashboard tiles.
Here's Larry Hryb telling you all about the March update or if you prefer you can check out Xbox Wire for all the details.
Sony, on the other hand, is on a much slower-paced update schedule at least in terms of new features. We still get small updates that "improve system stability" fairly often but it's been a while since we got any significant new features. Wikipedia says System 2.0, the last significant update, hit back in late October 2014.
Earlier this week some reports on System 2.50 leaked. The sources claim to be in a preview program and they provided images to back up their leaks. Nothing sounds totally far-fetched so I'm going to be optimistic and hope the reports are legit, but just to be clear for now this should all be filed under rumor and speculation.
Sony has told IGN that the next update will be here soon but they offered no details as to what is included in that update (or if 2.50 is even the next update).
So with all those grains of salt lined up, here's what we can look forward to:
App suspension. This has been promised since very early on. The idea is that you can put your PS4 into 'Rest mode' while playing a game, and the next time you wake up the console that game will continue right as you left it. This'll be a nice convenience feature that will get you playing as soon as possible.
New accessibility features. These include things like larger text, text-to-speech capability, high contrast colors, inverted colors, button assignments and closed captioning. This should be a great quality of life improvement for folks with special needs.
Backing up games to an external drive. This one warrants some PS4 vs Xbox One discussion.
Both the PS4 and the Xbox One come with fairly small (500 GB) hard drives. The drive in the PS4 can easily be upgraded without voiding your warranty. That isn't true for the internal drive of the Xbox One. (I'm sure you can upgrade it with enough effort but doing so isn't officially supported by Microsoft.) At launch I felt that the PS4 had the better storage solution.
At some point after launch, Microsoft added the ability to run games off an external USB 3.0 hard drive. You can hook two of them to the Xbox One if you need to, and if you get a fast external drive loading times are arguably faster than off the (somewhat slow) internal drive. This means you'll never run out of storage on the Xbox One as long as you're willing to keep buying (and swapping out) external drives. I felt that this was an even better storage solution that the PS4 had.
Now if this new back-up feature is legit, it'll get the PS4 closer to where the Xbox One is. You'll still have to spend time swapping files on and off your internal drive but it'll certainly be faster than having to re-download the tens of gigs of data that a typical AAA game is composed of.
Still, I'd love for Sony to figure out a way to let us run games off of an external drive. C'mon Sony, I know you can do it!