Why Sony's PS5 UI Is A Masterclass In Design

Sony PS5 UI
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Earlier this morning Sony showed off the very first look at the PS5 UI in a brand-new video. Prior to today, the only thing it had shown off to users was the power screen that asks you to hit the PlayStation button.

Suffice it to say, a more in-depth PS5 UI reveal this morning was a big deal for Sony. And for the players. The new UI looks good. Like, really good. But a pretty interface is just the cherry on top. There's definitely more depth there. And the UI does a great job at showing how much thought Sony put into it. The PS5 UI is such a good design and here's why.

The PS5 UI is such a good design because it focuses heavily on the player

PS5 Control Center Cards

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Sure the UI looks good. But, the visual design of the UI is not the main reason it's as good as it is.

A bigger reason for that is its focus on the player. The UI focuses heavily on the player in fact. What does that mean exactly? Many things, really. First, Sony wants to keep you engaged. And the PS5 UI is going to do a very good job of keeping content engagement up.

You can tell this just by learning about the Control Center. A new feature of the interface coming with the PS5 when it launches in November. The control center is Sony's way of allowing you to access and interact with various features of the console, but without having to back out of the game you might be in to get to the home screen and all its menus first.

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This is such a good idea because it allows you to stay on the game screen while you poke around in other things. For example, the cards in the control center that you can see in the image above.

These cards are based on the game you're currently playing. There's a card for screenshots, as well as cards for stories relating to the game, and a few other things. There are also cards for a new type of feature called Activities.

With activities, players can see useful information that relates to the game. Such as how much of a specific level they've completed, and even a personalized system estimate of how long it will take to finish that activity based on the current completion percentage.

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All of this is, again, crafted in a way that lets players see everything without having to leave the game screen. Which is huge. No longer will I (or you) have to disconnect from the game to go do something else in a menu far far away. Ultimately leading to wasted time.

Everything is a lot more organized

PS5 Home Screen UI

Look, no one enjoys having to wade through a convoluted UI just to find what they're searching for.

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The PS5 UI seems to combat this issue by, gasp, organizing things more efficiently. In Sony's first-look video, it shows off the home screen. Which is a lot more organized than it was on the PS4. First off, games and media content are split up into their own tabs.

You'll see games first, which is the left tab, then media second, which is the right tab. So instead of having all of your content laid out in one rolling carousel like on the PS4, it's separated out into specific sections.

You still have the rolling carousel. That's not going away. All Sony did was separate games and media. So if you're looking for games you want to play, or you want to buy a new game, all of your game cards and the PSN Store card will be listed under the games section.

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If you're wanting to sift through screenshots or captured video however, or stream something on Netflix, Crunchyroll or other TV apps, then you will find it all listed under the media section. Some people may still prefer to have everything all in one place.

But Sony's decision to shift towards a more organized UI for the PS5 is a smart one. And a decision that many players will surely appreciate.

Get by with a little help from your friends

PS5 Game Help

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One of the standout features that deserves a ton of attention is the new official game help that some games will include. And I have to wonder how unnoticed this feature will go by some players.

Say you're stuck at a particular part in a game. Your first reaction might be to do what I usually do, and go search for a guide or walkthrough on YouTube. Sony is adding official game help tips to some games for specific activities. So if you do end up stuck, you can check these tips to help get by.

Now, these will only be available for some activities and not all of them. And as mentioned only for some games. Since these are part of the activities, you'll find the official game help on the activity cards that have them.

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Game help will also be a PlayStation Plus feature. You'll need to have an active membership to access the tips, so that might be some incentive to getting one if you don't already subscribe.

Another big focal point here, and probably the biggest focal point, is that you don't have to leave the game to get the help. Some help tips even have video instead of text, and you can watch them from the activity card then jump right back to the game. Videos can even be expanded for a larger view if desired.

Even better still is that some cards can be put in a picture-in-picture mode. Allowing you to have the card up as you play the game. Should you need to, this may help you play along with the hint so you don't have to go back and check it. You can simply look over to your left or right and view the activity hint and continue until you complete whatever you're going after. Seamless play. Limitless fun.

The PS5 UI kind of has its own Stream Connect feature

 

If you're familiar with Stadia, then you probably know what Stream Connect is. Love or hate the platform, it's introduced some really cool stuff to the world of gaming. Stream Connect is one of those things. And the PS5 sort of has its own version of it.

Stream Connect is a feature that allows you to see a live view of where a friend is in a game that you're both playing when in a party. This launched on Stadia with Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Which is honestly a perfect game for it. Say you're partying with a friend and you're both engaged in a difficult encounter.

Stream Connect allows you to see where they are at all times. In turn they can also see where you are at all times too. This allows you to strategically plan out your next move in the encounter, and those video feeds are placed in small windows to the side of the screen so as not to take up precious screen space for your own gameplay.

On the PS5, you can bring up a live video feed of any friend that has decided to stream their gameplay. You can then pin that video to the screen. This opens up some really awesome capabilities when playing PS5 with friends. And should bring a whole new level of engagement to the gameplay experience.

You do have to be in a party for this to work, and you and the friends you may be playing with all have to share your screens. But it'll definitely come in handy when playing team games. Such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

You can use the control center to join in-progress matches for multiplayer games

PS5 Quick Join MP

Got friends already playing together in a multiplayer game? Want to join them quickly? The PS5 is making this pretty simple to do.

From the control center you can scroll all the way to a card that shows the friends you're in a party with. If one of them has already started a match in a multiplayer game, you can click on this card and there will be a join button that you can click.

This will immediately load up the game they're playing and dump you into the match. Now there are some caveats here to keep in mind. Jumping right into a match is probably only going to work if the match hasn't already started.

I can't imagine that if a friend is in the middle of a MP match in Call Of Duty that you'll be able to join that particular match. But there may be instances where it lets you. Like say, when that friend's team doesn't have all the players. It might also be required that games supports this feature, and it's just as possible that not all games will.

Nevertheless, this will make partying up and playing with friends way quicker because you can do it all from the control center.

The PS5 PlayStation Store is completely integrated into the system

PS5 PlayStation Store

Gone are the days where we have to use that abysmal PS4 version of the PlayStation Store. With PS5, the PSN Store is completely integrated into the system and is no longer a standalone app.

I can't stress enough how much better this is. First of all, launching the PlayStation Store on the PS4 was always slow. Maybe this is because I'm still using an original launch day PS4. And maybe not.

Either way, the complete system integration along with the PS5's much better performance is going to make searching for new games to purchase a dream. Because getting to the store and surfing through it will be way faster.

This is also likely going to help Sony sell more stuff. People won't hate using the store so they'll spend more time in it. Which probably means more chances that people will spend money. the store experience, Sony says, is also more personalized. So that probably means you'll see recommendations of games that are personalized to you as opposed to a blanketed list of featured titles.

Everything is about convenience and ease of use, player engagement, and a more enjoyable player experience. Sony's first-look video doesn't show off a ton of the PlayStation Store but it does give you enough of a peek to know that the experience received a big quality of life upgrade.

You can now use voice dictation to type messages

PS5 Voice Dictation

Typing out messages on the PS4 that are longer than a few words is not the greatest experience. It takes too long and sometimes it's too easy to have typos.

In my own personal experience, I often find that I accidentally back out of the message entirely. Causing me to have to restart the entire message. That sucks. PS5 solves this by adding the option to use voice dictation to type and send messages.

Using the DualSense controller you can bring up the message keyboard, and click on a mic button to use your voice. The voice dictation will type everything out for you. Then all you have to do is hit send. Easy peezy.

Obviously there's no telling how well this works for longer messages right now. Not without testing it first. But even if the messages you send tend to be kept short, this will still be a much faster way to send them. And that means more game time.

Media shared with friends can contain spoiler warnings

Spoilers. The bane of my existence. And maybe yours too. Unless you don't care about ruining the story or experience in a game you're playing, you probably hate spoilers.

Here's one way of how Sony is attacking that with that PS5. Say you captured some screenshots or video of a game you were playing. And then you want to share that media with a friend. You might even choose to use that fancy new voice dictation feature to type out your message.

Should the developer of the game your media was captured from think that it might contain spoilers, it'll warn the friend you're sharing it with about the potential spoilers before they view it.

This is such a fantastic feature. Especially for anyone who wants to experience parts of a game first-hand. Shared media won't always have these spoiler warnings. Some developers may not even choose to utilize this at all. But for the ones that do, your friends can rest assured that they won't have their game ruined by learning something before they've played it.

More features to come

Sony didn't divulge everything there is to know about the UI in this video. It is a bit long at just over eleven and a half minutes. But that isn't enough time to go over every aspect of the UI.

Sony says it will have more to share leading up to the PS5 launch in November. And there will be more to share in the months and years following the PS5 launch as Sony puts out updates and adds new features.

For now, there is plenty that makes the UI of the PS5 such an amazing experience. And if you're excited even in the slightest for the console's launch, make sure to check some of these UI features out when you get the chance.

Because they're definitely big upgrades to the experience that will make using the PS5 more enjoyable every time you power it on. If you're interested in watching the whole video, you can view it below.