The Little Things: A Few Improvements Could Take The PS4 A Long Way

I’ve had my PlayStation 4 since the day it launched in North America and while I’ve been happy with my purchase so far, there are a number of changes I feel Sony could make to their flagship console’s interface in an effort to make things more social, user friendly, and a bit less messy. Unlike a lot of requests I see from PlayStation users, most of this stuff is a tad nitpicky but they all involve areas of the interface I use on a very regular basis, and most of them are very practical ideas.

A couple of things I don’t mention below are MP3/DLNA support, quick resume from standby, and notifications for friends coming online, but that’s merely because I want to stick with smaller improvements I don’t hear a lot of chatter about, and those requests (among others) have been kicked around repeatedly since launch.

Let’s start with sharing screenshots and videos with your PSN friends. Putting aside the PS4’s bad track record for accurately recording the past few moments of gameplay footage (even after the 1.71 update), the audience that can see your shared stills and videos might be smaller than you think. I first noticed this when a friend that just bought a PS4 told me he couldn’t see my shared screenshots, even if he looked in my recent activity.

Since then, I’ve noticed that you can only see images and videos shared on Twitter and Facebook if you have that respective social network linked to your profile, meaning those of you who don’t have them (or choose not to link them to your PSN account) can’t see any shared media. If Sony wants to save some cash by having social sites host that content rather than doing it themselves, that’s fine, but at least allow all of your PSN friends to see them in your recent activity or the What’s New section.

Speaking of the What’s New section, it could use a few small tweaks. For starters, it seems there’s a decent amount of people that don’t see the activity of all their friends in this section. In fact, I see less than half my friends’ activity here, forcing me to go to their respective profiles if I want to stalk what they’ve been up to, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

Secondly, the manual refresh should be done away with in favour of real time updates or at least an auto refresh every minute or so, particularly if you’re already browsing friend activities. While they’re at it, maybe Sony could slightly dial back the number of adverts in this section.

To go along with a faster refresh of new activities, I think it’s time Sony finally addressed trophies that don’t sync in real time. I feel like after waiting several years on PS3 and the entire (albeit short) life of the PS4, there has to be a good reason Sony hasn’t included trophies that update in real time. Assuming it’s a bandwidth issue, maybe they should look for alternatives that don’t necessarily update instantly but do ensure trophies are still synced in a timely fashion.

Currently, if you have unlocked trophies that have not been synced with PSN servers when you launch a game, the PS4 will sync them for you as the game boots. I’d like to see them extend that batch sync to other areas, such as when you manually close a game, put the console into standby mode, or when the PS4 does its daily check for patches. Bandwidth would still saved over real-time syncs and trophies would be synced on at least a daily basis.

If you couldn’t tell by my quibbles with sharing media and recent activities, I’m a very social gamer, which means I love using party chat to talk with friends. While you can count me among the crowd that’s just happy to have party chat on a PlayStation platform this gen, a couple of small improvements would go a long way. I’ve noticed that when you start a party chat via the XMB or directly via a friend’s profile, you end up navigating through three different screens before the actual invite is sent.

Two of these three screens are barren wastelands of blue, leading me to believe we can trim this down to two or possibly even one page of party options. I can’t speak for everyone but I never change the names of my parties from the default, or send text messages along with my invites, so I wouldn’t be devastated if both those options were trimmed for the sake of speed. If they’re feeling generous when they’re tweaking party chat, maybe they could also add the ability to change a party to invite-only even after the party is created.

Sticking with the social theme, the profile screen could stand to have a minor facelift. I actually think the profile screen looks pretty great, but if there’s one piece of it that needs a change, it’s the Introduction section. Knowing what languages someone can speak is helpful but the About Me line allows for no more than 21 characters, which only holds about half of all the interesting things I can think to write about myself.

Age (so we can all be 18 again), location, and social network IDs would fit well here. This would also be a good area to add something shiny, like a fancy pie chart that shows how often you dabble in each genre, or maybe a trophy case to show off user-designated favorites, but I’d be happy with just a few small changes to how it currently appears.

Finally, I think patching a new game could be better than it is right now. Many of you have probably noticed that when you put a game in your console for the first time, it doesn’t actually check for any patches until you launch the game. If you’re hoping to play multiplayer immediately or use any network functions within the game, you have to back out to the XMB, close the game, then wait for the patch to finish downloading.

The preferable option would obviously be for the system to check for the update as soon as the game is inserted, that way you can just wait for the patch to finish downloading and launch the game only once. Assuming the game isn’t Battlefield 4 and you’re not using 28k dial-up, most of the patch could probably download while the game is going through its required short install anyway.


I don’t feel like any one of those changes are really going to make the PS4 dramatically better but I think they could collectively add up to offer a better experience. Sony made a point to dedicate a small piece of their E3 conference to user feedback so it would be nice to see them continue to pick up ideas from the community for the betterment of their platform.

What small changes would you like to see Sony implement? Are there any little hiccups or cumbersome tasks you’ve noticed and would like to see streamlined? Let us know in the comments.

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35 Comments

  1. That horrible big row of icons needs to go. Kind of annoying if you want to play anything you haven’t played in a while which has been pushed off to the right.

    Or put the “library” option somewhere you can easily get to. That’s a much neater way to find things. A big grid of icons, without all that extra crap underneath.

    Of course, while they’re at it, they might like to make the “library” work if you’re not online, or the PSN is down for yet another maintenance. For some reason only known to Sony, you can’t use that option at all if it can’t get at the PSN.

    Might be nice to have some sort of folder option too. I like to sort my games into lots of folders for different genres, including “crap PS+ pixelly bollocks”. ;)

    • Currently, the library reads your PSN account of everything PS4 compatible that you’ve downloaded. I’m sure an offline account of everything installed would be doable though.

    • I agree, we need custom folders again….as well as being able to pause downloads (particularly as some are huge); turn off console after downloads as an alternative to standby (I may not come back to my PS4 for a few days!!); get rid of these silly downloads of other regions that then just get deleted (after being stuck on “waiting to install”); and the option to appear offline.

      • Yeah COD is a bugger for the double download wasting your time and your bandwidth downloading multiple files only to use one grrrr :#

      • Yeah, it’s a joke when the CoD DLC is 5gb and you download one just to delete it. No wonder PSN and the Store suck sometimes!

    • Yeah, I hate the main menu row. It’s badly designed so that it gets significantly worse with time. Having two or three, separately moving, rows would be nice. Maybe some sub menus for non games as well.

      Or maybe separating content into pages, kinda like Steam Big Picture?

    • I personally like the Menu system however here are my improvement wishes
      1, Move the Library Next to the whats new area so when you first boot you can just press left and BOOSH there you go.
      2, Only keep the most recent games played on the front page. Say last 5 games just so there is still some variety
      3, Allow me to delete Beta’s and Demo’s from my library. These are dead and i will never need them again so WHY are they still there.
      4, Remove Television apps from the library, The fact they are in the TV menu says to me we don’t need them in the library.

      I mean we could go on but apart from the frequent requests for MP3 and Appear offline modes, that just what i think is needed to stop me from getting annoyed.

      • I’m on board with all of those ideas.

    • @MrYd Spat the cocoa out reading that last line…

      “I like to sort my games into lots of folders for different genres, including “crap PS+ pixelly bollocks”. ;)”

      Cracking comment ;)

      Guess you could just call the folder “Atari shizz” :P

  2. Small but all fair points…aside from the MP3/DNLA thing that most users want the thing that I want the most is the ability to change the theme or at least get rid of the blue…

    That and being able to customize the “Library” section by creating folders, getting rid of stuff etc…I know have to scroll right to the end of a long list to get to my “Library” due to the amount of games I’ve played and that list will only get bigger with PS+.

  3. They also need to group the games the same way they do for TV channels etc. At the moment my XMB goes about 25 clicks across.

  4. I think, regarding not seeing all of your friends activities could be linked to privacy settings maybe? I’m not 100% sure though.

    Lots of great little ideas though, but I would really appreciate them if they were implemented.

    Also, I am simply astounded that you can’t ‘gift’ games to people a-la steam. Surely this would be a simple tweak and would only increase sales.

  5. One thing i would really like implemented when it comes to downloads is a pause option,now i’m currently back on super slow broadband when ever a download pops up I can’t really play any online multiplayer due to it slowing my speeds down to a crawl,also it would then be possible to priorities downloads.

  6. Personally, I’d settle for just a few small tweaks here & there;

    1. You raise a good point about notifications of people coming online – I hadn’t really noticed that until it was mentioned here, but it would be much better when setting up (or are in) an online meet to know when others have come online

    2. What happened to trophy cards & comments? The comments were often a good way to ask whether others had games, confirm meet times etc. & the trophy cards were useful to see whether others were playing the same games at the same time (roughly)

    3. The ability to post trophies to facebook so that they appear as actual posts (as PS3 handles oh so well already) rather than being hidden away in an activities section that no-one checks. Granted, some may not like this, but it made for some good discussions & you can choose not to have them appear if they really offend you that much.

    4. The ability to pop downloaded games (or placeholders for disc games as these seem to persist past taking the game out) into folders. Or some sort of organisation at least rather than a big bar of stuff you may or may not be playing.

    5. Make trophies (& other selected content) viewable when offline. This was bloody annoying the other day when my net supply seemingly dried up in the hot sun.

    Other than that, I am relatively happy at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll find other stuff as time goes on. :)

    • Regarding point 5, it’s scary to think we never own our PS4 trophies, I mean they are only on Sony’s servers so one day they will be lost forever, or we will lose access to them. Whereas with our PS3s there is hard drive space to have the details on there, for as long as the PS3 lives.

      • Yeah, I have no idea why we don’t have a pseudo cached version as they have on PS3 – You see your trophies as they were last synch. That makes much more sense to me (probably because I am used to how it’s done on PS3).

        Honestly, I don’t know why they didn’t just take the PS3 & most of it’s options (not all!) & beef it up a bit for PS4.

  7. The Xbox 360 (and I assume One) allows global controller preference for some game types. For example, for “action” games, I always have my Y-Axis inverted. After setting that once when I first got my 360, I rarely have to go to controller settings on any game – they all use that setting. In contrast, for every single action game on my PS3 & PS4 I always have to locate the relevant menu and make that change when I first launch it.

    Only a minor thing I know, but I love that feature, and wish Sony did the same thing. I addition to controller set-up, they could have console wide settings for audio (TV/stereo/multichannel speakers)/subtitles and probably various other things I can’t think of at the moment too.

    • This, absolutely. I wish there was a similar option for the PC too.

    • I don’t even buy a new game every week so it doesn’t take up too much time to change such an option, but still pretty cool that someone at MS has considered and implemented it.

      • Its not the time its more the convenience of it. Set it once and never think about it again. Unless you have a son who jumps on it and reverts the settings back of course lol!!!

  8. Alright, smaller tweaks…

    Themes?
    Custom touchpad shortcuts?
    3D bluray playback?
    More subtle notifications (and maybe with a larger lettercount support or drop last names)?

    • The PS4 still doesn’t play 3D blurays? Is there something wrong with the “copy/paste” function?

  9. Also, anyone else had to remove their HDMI cable from the TV after starting a BluRay, and put it back in again – as there is a signal or playback issue. Terrible really as this happened to me only about 2-3 weeks ago so up until then hadn’t been patch since launch!!

    • Nope, but if I turn on the console before the TV then I don’t get any audio. I then need to reselect the input channel to get it back.

      This only occurs with the PS4, and not anything else I connect.

  10. “I’m still not epileptic” is an option i’d love to tick in the system settings.
    On the positive side though i do appreciate my ps4 telling me when i’ve logged in,oh wait no thats complete bullshit.

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