PlayStation 4

LiveArea is arguably one of the most underrated elements of the PlayStation Vita’s operating system. While it’s not been used to its full potential by most developers, the landing screen system – which can display important game data, links, statistics, and messages from developers – is an undeniably nifty idea. As such, it’s nice to know that Sony’s aiming to repurpose the concept for the PlayStation 4.

Chatting with the Guardian at the Develop conference in Brighton last week, Neil Brown, the man responsible for leading SCEE’s research and development department, explained that the next generation console’s interface “will transform how users engage with and experience content across our platforms”. Those are some flowery words, but what do they actually mean?

According to the publication, the PS4’s user experience is built around five primary principles: simple, social, immediate, integrated, and personalised. Upon booting up the console, you’ll be taken to the ‘What’s New’ screen, which will serve as a hub for the latest activity in your network. You’ll be able to see messages from developers, videos that your friends have posted, and more. And it sounds like you’ll be able to customise the layout depending on your tastes.

But here’s where it gets really interesting: each game will have its own page, similar to the Vita’s LiveArea, which will provide you with information specific to that title. You’ll be able to see which of your friends own it, what the hottest videos are, and all of the latest news. In addition, developers will be able to create more “complex” tiles, displaying statistics, leaderboards, animated icons, and more.

And you’ll be able to use these tiles to jump into a specific part of the game. So, for example, if your friends have beaten your best laps on DriveClub, rather than boot up the title and scroll through its menus, you’ll be able to challenge those times directly from the user interface. Pretty neat, huh?

Sony’s yet to properly show how all of this will operate in the real world, but you can check out the staged – and poorly acted – trailer below, which should give you a glimpse of some of the features. Admittedly, we’re more excited about the interface than some of the games. Still, exploring the operating system is part of the appeal of a new piece of hardware, isn’t it?