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PlayStation beta test introduces much-needed social tweaks

Sony revealed the latest PS5 and PS4 software beta on the PlayStation Blog today. The new beta will introduce several new features encompassing Game Base, party chat, UI, voice commands, and accessibility.

Grouping up with friends and talking over voice chat has always been a clunky experience on PS4 and PS5. The features Sony is experimenting with during the beta test should make for a less cumbersome experience. Beta users can create open and closed parties, report users with visual indicators of who was speaking, and Share Play right from the voice chat card on PS5. On PS4, players can also experiment with the new party parameters and adjust the voice chat volume of individual users. 

Many of the Game Base improvements on PS5 also directly relate to the social experience. The Game Base menu is getting divided into three sections for Friends, Parties, and Messages. The Friends tab will allow players to more easily search for players, access friend requests, and decline friend requests. Players can also send quick messages, images, and video clips to a group via game base. And if one of the players in a party is sharing whatever is on their screen, an “on-air” icon will indicate that. 

The UI improvements make it easier to manage the best games in your collection. Not only can players now search their game library by genre, but they can also pin up to five games or apps on the PS5 home screen so their favorites don’t disappear when they install or play new games. The number of apps displayed on the home screen will also be increased to 14. Outside of that, the trophy UI has been reworked and the Share Screen option will be available right from the Create menu.

When it comes to accessibility, the screen reader will now support Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Polish, and Russian. PS5 players can also now choose to use mono audio. Checkmarks will appear on enabled settings, which will help players understand what accessibility features are turned on. 

Finally, Sony is letting players in the U.S. and the U.K. experiment with using voice commands on PS5. Using the microphone on the DualSense or headset, players can ask their PS5 to find and open games or apps and control playback while watching or listening to something.

This is certainly a hefty beta, and will hopefully make the PS5 social experience much smoother when it becomes available. The beta will start on PS4 and PS5 on February 9 and will officially launch later in 2022.

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