PS5 interface could get a killer upgrade to take on Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 interface is still something of a mystery. While we’ve seen the PS5 console, the DualSense controller and a healthy lineup of games, we know nothing about the PS5’s navigation scheme, save for a single screen

However, a recent Sony patent might give us a glimpse into the PS5’s menu scheme. This time around, Sony wants to seamlessly integrate games, music and videos, with one menu controlling every aspect of the system.

Information comes from the United States Patent Office and, as you can imagine, the text is pretty dense. Don’t attempt to read the whole thing without some caffeine handy, but the basic breakdown is this: Sony asserts that most game systems subject users to too many different types of menus, depending on what they’re playing, watching or hearing.

“While executing any one of the programs, a user may wish to execute another program in parallel or to start another program in place of the running program,” the patent states. “However, input of instructions with respect to running programs (e.g., an instruction for terminating the execution) and input in such menu screens are usually entered in a clearly separate manner in terms of the user interface. 

Therefore, when executing programs in parallel or switching programs, a user is required to use a different user interface so as to carry out these operations. On the other hand, there is a strong need for the development of unified user interfaces that allow for various operations to be performed in order to present a novel user-friendly impression to a user.”

That’s a mouthful, but the basic gist is easy enough to follow: Game systems have drastically different interfaces for various utilities, such as playing a game or listening to music. This creates friction when a user tries to switch among these utilities. Sony’s patent proposes a unified interface that users can launch from anywhere in the system.

While the patent doesn’t mention the PS5 specifically, this does seem fairly different than how the PS4 works. The game launcher is totally different from the music player, which is totally different from the music player overlay during games. A unified interface would make these disparate elements easier to use, in addition to making switching among them faster.

(There’s some speculation that this patent could facilitate similar technology to the Xbox Series X’s  Quick Resume functionality, which lets users suspend multiple games at the same time. The patent doesn’t address this idea specifically, but it would make suspending and resume apps easier in general, so anything is possible.)

It’s worth pointing out that this patent isn’t just an application; the patent office granted it back on June 23. As such, Sony is free to incorporate this technology into its gadgets now. Will it be a PS4 update? A hint at the PS5 interface? An ambitious project that Sony abandons? We’ll know by the end of the year.

Marshall Honorof

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.