Why it matters: Sony launched a new PS5 system software into beta to deliver new ways of personalizing your experience, introducing new party options, more accessibility features, and UI enhancements. It also has a new PS4 beta update with open parties and a feature to control the volume of individual party members.
Sony's new system software updates allow users to create open and closed parties on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Users need to run the same software version (currently in beta) to join an open party, but anyone can join a closed party regardless of the software build. At an open party, friends and friends of your friends can freely join it without an invite, but only players invited by the creator can enter a closed one.
As part of the added party options, PS5 beta users can better identify who's speaking in voice chat using the new visual indicators and Share Play straight from the voice chat window. Additionally, PS4 users may individually adjust the voice chat volume of each party member, similar to how PS5 users can.
PlayStation 5 Game Base will receive a minor redesign, with voice chats now being called parties and the division of the menu into the Friends, Parties, and Messages tabs. The Game Base control menu now has options for viewing or searching for friends and accessing friend requests. Users can also add players to groups or create a new group directly from this menu. Text and quick messages, images, videos, and viewing a group's shared media are also contained in this menu.
Other minor changes include the addition of an icon on users sharing their screens and a decline button to the friend request list.
The console's UI has also changed, introducing a game genre filter to your game collection and a "Keep in Home" option to add games and apps to the home screen. You can only have a maximum of five games or apps with this option enabled, but the home screen now supports a total of 14 games and apps.
Sony also updated the trophies UI, enabling users to see suggestions for which ones they should pursue next and access it from the Control Center when playing something. The new UI also allows users to share their screens from the Create menu.
For accessibility, the latest PlayStation 5 beta update supports six more languages for the Screen Reader, including Russian, Arabic, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Korean. It also introduces the option to enable mono audio on headphones and display check marks on enabled options.
An arguably more exciting addition is the Voice Command (preview). Think of it as a PS5 voice assistant geared to console tasks. It will allow users to open games, apps, settings, and control media playback. To test this feature, beta users must enable it via the settings menu. Once turned on, it activates by saying, "Hey, PlayStation!" and then issuing a command like asking the console to search for something or control video playback.
Sony asks users to provide feedback about this feature, which may record your voice commands. If you don't want to upload your recordings to Sony, don't forget to turn this feature off on the Voice Command (preview) settings.
The beta software will be only available for owners in the US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, and France. In addition, the Voice Command preview will be exclusive for select US- and UK-based users. The final version of this update will be available worldwide later this year.