A new patent has been uncovered that looks an awful lot like the PS5 user interface, and if this is the final design — or we end up with something close to it — then there’s a few interesting twists ahead.
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The description of the patent explains how the UI “arranges multiple icons representing multiple contents related to a single application on the home screen,” with “the multiple icons displaying mutually different contents.”
That’s as opaque as patent gets, but an accompanying diagram gives us an idea of how that could work in practice:
It looks like selecting a game from the home screen won’t just boot it up. Analysis from Resetera’s GoFreak suggests that as well as simple party management options seen in the first panel, additional frames will let you jump into the next level, see hints about the mission ahead, or check where your friends have got in the game. “So if one of the icons is for a specific mission and a friend has been playing, it'll highlight their icon, and you can tap through to see more info on that activity.”
At the top of the screen, we can see a list of active friends, but the UI seems to let you tag ‘close friends’. Thumbnail appearances will change according to what they’re up to, whether they’re livestreaming or messaging you.
The patent is very recent — it’s dated September 17, even if the graphics inside it look considerably more dated. Surely Sony could have at least put a PS4 in the document, rather than what looks like a first-generation PS3?
We’ll have to see it in action before we can see how much of a game changer this is. Being able to jump straight in to the point you left off is a real time saver, and if the PS5’s super-fast SSD technology cuts down loading times as dramatically as Sony is promising, then current-gen consoles could feel very dated, very fast.
But some questions remain. For one, where will it draw additional content from? If, say, YouTube tutorials linked are automatically linked to games, then brand-new titles will suffer as nobody will have had time to upload anything. And that’s not to mention the embarrassing potential for inappropriate content to surface.
Alternatively, if it’s developer created/curated, then that puts an additional burden on companies which may simply decide it’s simply not worth the time. It may well be that this is technically a killer feature, but one that nobody is talking about a few years down the line — very much like the PS4’s Share Play feature.
It’s possible that this is only a small part of the PS5’s UI. PlayStation chief Jim Ryan is certainly enthusiastic about what’s ahead. “We haven't shown yet any of the user experience of the PS5, and there's some really cool stuff to come on that,” he told Gamesindustry.biz. “Within that, as the PS5 feature set becomes more sticky, and the way people make games are becoming more clever, more interesting... there will be opportunities for greater engagement, and greater time spent on the platform.”
We don’t have too long to find out. The PS5 launches in America on November 12 — just 54 days from now — although you may struggle to get one on launch day. Even pre-orders from Amazon.com are looking dicey.