New PS5 software beta upgrades chat, Game Base, home screen and more

Sony PS5 on a table next to a TV
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re a beta tester for PS5 software, then your time has come to shine. Tomorrow (Feb. 9), Sony will introduce the PS5’s second major software beta test. This time around, testers will have the opportunity to evaluate improved chat options, a streamlined Game Base, a more expansive home screen and a handful of accessibility features.

If you live in the U.S. or the UK, however, you’ll have one extra experiment to test: the PS5’s first crack at voice commands.

This info comes from the official PlayStation Blog, where Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president of Platform Experience, laid out what beta testers can expect. While most of these features are PS5-centric, PS4 software beta testers will be able to test a few of these options as well.

First and foremost, party chat will get a big revamp in the form of Open and Closed Parties. These are essentially what they sound like. If you create an Open party, your friends can see it — and join it — without an invite. Closed Parties, on the other hand, require an invite. This innovation could be beneficial for groups of friends who like to drop in and out of casual play.

Game Base will now also allow you finer control over your teammates. In tomorrow’s beta, the Game Base will have three separate tabs: Friends, Parties and Messages. This should make it easier to invite friends to games, add them to parties and communicate with them once they’ve joined. The Game Base will also let you know when a player is sharing his or her screen.

If you’re not into the multiplayer scene, there are still two other PS5 features worth testing out. The first is the improved home screen. The beta software will let players keep up to five games and apps pinned to their home screens, rather than simply displaying the most recent software. You can also now see up to 14 apps on the home screen, meaning you won’t have to dig through system menus as often.

There are a handful of other updates you can check out, from a better interface for Trophies, to more Screen Reader languages. But the last big feature, at least for players in the U.S. and UK, is the Voice Command Preview.

This feature is exactly what it sounds like. Using the PS5’s controller or a headset mic, you’ll be able to give the PS5 voice commands, from launching games to finding movies and songs. The PS4 has similar features, so players who learned how to navigate Sony’s previous console with their voices should feel right at home. Just be aware that, at present, it can parse commands only in English.

Now that the beta is rolling out a few unannounced features have also been discovered. The biggest of quite is some small, but still very useful, upgrades to the PS5 Pulse 3D Headset. Creating custom audio profiles is now easier with improved labelling and the ability to rename them.

If you’re not part of the PS5 system software beta program, you can sign up on Sony’s website. And if you prefer to get your software updates the old-fashioned way, then these are (probably) some of the features you can look forward to within the next few months. 

Either way, you might also want to check out our favorite PS5 hidden features you need to try. And if you're still trying to track down a PS5, check out our PS5 restock hub for all the latest updates. 

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.