Second screen apps for iOS and Android devices were announced last night at the PlayStation 4 launch. Similar to Microsoft’s SmartGlass software, the apps are designed to offer additional information and interaction with Sony’s newest console, and will be called PlayStation Up.
We were never actually shown the PS4 in all of its presumed physical glory, but Sony was eager to share several details of the future gaming rig. The app will first be available only on iOS and Android, no word whether BlackBerry or Windows Phone will receive a similar treatment. The smartphone apps allow users to interact with the PS4 either in the home or away from it.
While playing a game, the apps will offer additional content like maps, Sony says. Our best guess is that the apps will work a little like the Wii U’s controller, though probably not as deeply integrated since not everyone owns an iOS or Android device. It could go beyond maps, maybe offering some inventory management as well. That will be left to developers to specific include in their games.
Away from the console, the app plugs into the PlayStation Network. From there, you can see what games your friends are playing and watch some real-time footage or purchase some games so they are ready when you get back home. Watching your friend’s play games in real time is an interesting social feature, but do people even like doing that? Last time we checked, no one wanted to come over to watch us play video games.
Unfortunately, there is no remote play option for these smartphone apps. According to Sony, the PS Vita can play games remotely through the PlayStation Network and the coming streaming technology, but the feature would be considerably harder to implement on a touch-only device. There is Sony’s PlayStation Mobile certification program that may allow for this feature sometime in the future with enough blood, sweat, and tears put behind it.
It will all become clearer as we draw closer to the PS4’s holiday launch and Sony starts getting looser with the details. Sony didn’t show the new apps on-stage last night, but there is so much more we’d like to know. For starters, a peek at the actual hardware would be very much appreciated.