PlayStation 5 system UI will be a “100% overhaul” from the PS4

We now know what the PlayStation 5 will look like, and have seen plenty of games that will be running on next-gen consoles, but what about the stuff that lives between the games and the hardware? Sony’s Matt Maclaurin, VP of UX Design at PlayStation, has revealed this to be a “100% overhaul of the PS4 UI”, which will contrast with Microsoft’s decision to keep the Xbox Series X system UI the same as the Xbox One.

MacLaurin has been responding to questions via LinkedIn – an unusual avenue to talk to console gamers, to be sure – digging into some of the philosophies of the next-gen system software, but without really going into too much detail ahead of its reveal.

He describes it as “A little more pragmatice, but a 100% overhaul of PS4 UI and some very different new concepts.” This includes “Largely cleaning up core functionality, but some key new bets that you’ll see soon,” though that still means there’s “a whole new visual language and a complete rearchitecting of the user interface.”

Most important for a lot of PS4 fans (and fans hoping that the PS5 doesn’t just sound of fans) is that the “experience goals measured in milliseconds across the entire UI.”

The PlayStation 4’s interface has stuck with the system throughout its lifetime, picking up additional functionality, but remaining fundamentally the same throughout. That, however, has gone hand in hand with the hardware to sometimes be quite burdensome to the console experience. In particular when a game is active in the background, simply returning to the home screen will spin up the PS4’s cooling fans a significant amount, while core functions like diving down into a game’s details will take several moments to load.

The PlayStation 5’s excess of new power and SSD would speed this up dramatically all on its own, but that also gives room for new concepts to be explored.

One of these could be a PlayStation Assist AI feature, which was revealed via a patent – then again, there was also a patent for a weird robot friend that we really hope doesn’t get turned into reality – but we can almost assuredly expect Sony to bring more interconnectivity and online features to the system software.

Source: LinkedIn via Resetera

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11 Comments

  1. I liked the simplicity of the PSP & PS3 UI – it was generally responsive, and felt uncluttered. The PS4 UI always feels like it’s running at super low framerates regardless of whether you are in game or not.
    Hopefully the UI refresh also covers the PSN store? They really need to work on making pages load quicker

    • Yeah, I loved the simplicity of the XMB as well. You might be forgetting what a cluster it was when you had a game running on PS3, though. The biggest improvement for PS5 will simply come from the SSD – pop an SSD in a PS4 and it’s way more responsive – and having a more powerful CPU core to run it from for added features.

    • I loved that old XMB too and it’s still part of my old TVs and blu-ray player, striking a nice balance of simplicity and familiarity. Hopefully whatever Sony go for now isn’t too flashy, simple and striking would be nice.

    • The in-game XMB issues were due to the RAM limitations of the PS3 I think I remember?
      But yes, with the SSD and GPU, there’s really no excuse for the UI to not be fluid in the PS5.

  2. Can’t say I’ve noticed the fans spinning up when switching to the home screen. Usually the opposite. Almost as if going to the home screen stops the game doing whatever madness it was doing that caused noisy fans. (Half of which could be stopped by the Sony QA people failing more games if they do something stupid. Like not letting menu screens where nothing is happening run at an uncapped framerate, which has been convincingly suggested as what the problem is a lot of the time)

    Hopefully the new UI will be the right mix of new and familiar. The PS4 is very different to the PS3, but it’s still clearly built on the same idea. Just a bit of extra complication to it.

    As for MS not changing theirs much, after fiddling with it so much in the past, that makes sense. They’re really going for the “it’s like the current gen, but faster” angle, aren’t they? Pushing the BC stuff and the no Series X exclusive thing, and the UI is the same. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they really did announce the Lockhart version (presumably Series S?). What are the chances of that having power and a price somewhere between the One X and the PS5? And then the Series X being more powerful and more expensive than the PS5? Could lead to a much closer battle between MS and Sony at the start (which is good for everyone) before Sony take a bigger lead once the PS5 price comes down. (Which could happen reasonably quickly this time – that SSD can’t be cheap now, but should come down in price quickly)

  3. A snappier live menu would be good, i’ve lost entire minutes of my lifespan waiting for that Video folder to populate.

    • Don’t get me started on the video folder!

      Why can’t we move the ones we use into their own folder? Or get rid of the ones we don’t use? Even if you haven’t downloaded them, they’re still there. And then Disney+ pops up, you can’t get rid of it, and all the ones you use have suddenly shifted to the right. Or the whole thing grinds to a halt because it’s loading the adverts for some crap you’re never going to watch.

      I’d talk to it and skip going into that folder, but that never works well. How do Sky manage to do voice recognition so well and let me change channel or start Netflix by talking it, but whenever I’ve tried talking to the PS4 it hasn’t got a clue and, I assume, thinks I’ve said “purple monkey dishwasher” and just looks at me as if I’m an idiot?

    • Talking to the PS4? I’ve never even heard of this. How does one go about getting that feature?

      • You need some sort of microphone, either in a headset or the one in the camera. Should you have either of these things.

        And turn it on in the system settings. Under System > Voice operation settings.

        Then you just say “playstation” and some command. It tells you what you can use. Although you might as well just say “purple monkey dishwasher”, because it never bloody works properly. Or you might find it does work. That’s the thing with voice recognition. It’s completely random if any particular version of it will understand you. For me, the PS4 doesn’t, those nice Sky Q boxes do, and Android does when it feels like it. And that Star Trek Bridge Crew game does a great job even when trying various ways to go to warp, including “punch it”, when in a panic because the Borg are attacking.

  4. PS4’s menu was still basically the cross-media bar while I generally like, so I hope they’re not completely moving away from that basic overriding concept.

  5. Responsiveness of the current PS4 menus is horrible, it’s ridiculously bad. I remember well how quick the menzs worked, when they first showed the PS4 UI. It only went downhill after that. Hope the same won’t happen with the PS5.

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